Bird-watching in Uganda

Posted on March 11, 2016 02:53 am

Any bird lover who express affection for birding will have an idea that Uganda is Africa’s Birding capital. As the country with some of the largest tropical rainforest in Africa, Uganda is home to more than 11 per cent kinds of birds worldwide and 52 percent of the bird population in Africa. Asha Nagujja, 22, is busy focusing her Nikon binoculars as her mouth moves. “”Look, there’s three birds on a big tree,”” she yells happily.For the University student from Kampala, the country capital, bird-watching is one of her favorite outdoor activities.””I like camping and birdwatching, both interesting and challenging activities,”” she said while taking part early last year in a bird-watching program organized by a local conservation organisation.For the program, Nagujja took part along with her mother. “”I let my daughter take part in this kind of event to help her get close to the environment,”” said Nagujja’s mother. She said that so far, there were no complaints from her daughter even though bird-watching meant waking up early during holidays. “”She knows that if she does not wake up early, the birds will be gone by the time she gets there,”” Nagujja mother said.With its various forms, unique behavior and attractive colors, birds are interesting to watch.Of the more than 1,500 species globally, 200 of them are only found in Uganda according to 2015 statistics. The World Conservation Body, however, named 52 kinds of birds found in Uganda as endangered and on the brink of extinction.

The collecting of rare and endangered birds is becoming common by Uganda Wildlife Authority and other conservation organisations but from my view is that bird-watching is an environmentally friendly way to enjoy birds’ beauty in their natural habitats and remains popular in Uganda.A parent, Katamba, considered the bird-watching program as the right moment for parents to introduce various objects found in the Entebbe Botanical Garden to their children. There, visitors could observe not only trees but also birds, she added.””I think bird-watching is good for families,”” said the mother of four from Mubende. Another parent, Kiiza, considered bird-watching the way to introduce nature to one’s family. “”By following birdwatching with our family, we can teach our children to love the environment,”” he said.Kiiza prefers the simplest method of watching birds, asking his two-year-old son to observe without the help of binoculars.He also urged others to introduce nature to their children early, such as by asking children to watch birds in their neighborhoods, like sparrows. Then, after they have shown their interests, the children could be taught the use of binoculars or a monocular, he said.””My son can use binoculars and distinguish color,”” he said proudly. He added that his son always asked names of birds and their families. “”It seems like he’s more interested in observing nature for real than reading a guidebook.””

Apart from improving one’s awareness of nature, Kiiza said that the activity also strengthened family ties. “”I’m busy with my routine jobs at the office in Ntinda and do not have enough time to spend with my child,”” he said. “”But, while participating in this program, I can spend time teaching and discussing various matters with my child while having fun at the same time.””With caged birds surrounded by trees, the Entebbe Wildlife’s backyard is an ideal places to bird-watch around the Entebbe Botanical Garden. There, children can get closer to birds without disturbing them.There, visitors will hear the warble and chirp of numerous birds, like crane birds among others.Besides watching birds, visitors can also see fruit-eating bats known scientifically as Pteropus vampirus. This mouse-like animal flies at night and sleeps in the day by hanging from the branches of trees. Many bats are found hanging on branches of a candlenut tree found in the Entebbe Botanical Garden compound.A survey in the Entebbe Botanical Garden in 1989 by an Australian researcher showed there were about 78 kinds of birds.Today, however, there are only 29 kinds of birds in the botanical gardens due to the narrowing green corridor in Entebbe and as a result of ongoing construction works to build new houses, according to a conservation organisation coordinator I spoke to in 2014. Noises coming from vehicles, radios, tape recorders and loudspeakers are other factors responsible for the disappearance of the birds from the botanical garden, coordinator added.

Contador Harrison