BirdLife Botswana staff members, Keddy Mooketsa and Boitumelo Sekhute-Batungamile, are to be congratulated on the development of an avi-tourism handbook – a practical guide to starting a community-based birding tourism business. This handbook provides useful information on how to go about using birds in a sustainable, non-consumptive way (through tourism) to improve rural livelihoods, and thereby create a real value for birds that will ultimately lead to their conservation.
Often people living adjacent to Important Bird Areas (IBAs) do not realize the value of birds, but with birding tourism growing worldwide, avi-tourism is a viable way of generating income from birds, with adequate marketing. Once people see the benefit of birds, it is easy to involve them in the protection and monitoring of the resource. This approach has been successfully used by BirdLife partners in South Africa and Kenya, for example, to create meaningful employment, and to show the value of birds, and BirdLife Botswana is now following their example.
The avi-tourism handbook, which is due out soon, will complement the specialist bird guide training that has already been initiated by BirdLife Botswana staff.