Missing out on bird watching ecotourism prospects

Missing out on bird watching ecotourism prospects

Endowed with almost 800 bird species, and huge potentials for birdwatching trade, Ghana is yet to boost that aspect of ecotourism and fully develop it for revenue generation purposes.

While there are at least, a birdwatching spot in every region in Ghana, the Keta Lagoon Ramsar Site, Ankasa Resource Reserve, Atewa Forest, Xavi Bird Sanctuary, Owabi Forest Reserve and the Sakumono Ramsar Site, all boast a great variety of bird species including winter migratory birds.

It is estimated that over US$800 billion is spent a year in outdoor recreation in the United States, with birdwatching having an economic benefit of US$41 billion within the ecotourism value chain.

Roughly US$17.3 billion is spent annually in wildlife-watching trip-related expenses in the U.S., with more than 20 million Americans taking birding-specific trips on mainland America and to Africa.

According to Africa Geographic, Ghana has 12 of the 15 Upper Guinea endemics species of birds in West Africa.

Ghana’s upper Guinea rainforest, national parks, broad leaved Guinea woodland and savannah plains, coastal lagoons, make it easy for birdwatching tours.

Keta is the largest lagoon in the country, it has a ramsar site which is the country’s most important marine birding site, home to 76 waterbird species including globally significant numbers with an estimated total population of well over 100,000.

While the prospects are bound, there has been no investments into birdwatching in Ghana.

The area, a branch of ecotourism, is considered a sector well-patronized by the rich and wealthy for leisure, and highly used for academic and research purposes.

The average birder is 50 years old, well-educated, and sustainably aware. Older, retired birders often have more time and money to go birding. The European birdwatcher spends on average around 100 euros a day and spends several nights at one destination.

On average, a birder spends roughly 17 days in a host country according to Herbert Byaruhanga the executive director of Africa Birding Safaris, and spends roughly US$7,000 on a trip.

In Africa, South Africa, Tunisia Kenya and Uganda are generating some appreciable revenues through birdwatching tourism. Uganda has, since 2019, been hosting the Pearl of Africa Birding Expo at the lakeside resort town of Entebbe.

Uganda receives some millions of migratory birds annually but lags behind Ghana in terms of the numbers.

A research by Birdlife International in 2011, revealed that about a quarter of British birds, which fly annually across the Atlantic, end up in Ghana and do not return.

Every year, about a million birds of various species travel from Europe, mainly, from Britain to the south of Sahara.

Many species that breed in the UK make a journey through Europe, across the Mediterranean and the North of Africa, before tackling the mighty Sahara and finally arriving in Ghana, Birdlife indicated.



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