Monday, February 25, 2008

Birding in Rwanda - A Guest Post

Ed note - The following appeal came to me from Jeremy Kahn of the OTF Group, which specializes in Third-World economic development. The text he sent me is presented here, unaltered.

Close your eyes, and think about Rwanda. What do you see?

Sadly, for many people the first images that come to mind are those of the 1994 genocide. However, today, Rwanda presents a stark contrast to the country we saw on TV fourteen years ago. Today, with its blossoming and lush jungle forests, mountain gorillas, endemic bird species, beautiful lakes and a stable and growing economy, Rwanda is on the rise – but few people know about it.

Those who do come to Rwanda, however, benefit from the efforts of the Rwandan tourism board (ORTPN), which has dedicated itself to the development and promotion of sustainable eco-tourism and conservation. Rwanda has quite a bit to protect beyond our well-known distant cousins, the mountain gorillas. In particular, Rwanda boasts the highest concentration of different bird species in Africa with high levels of endemism, hosting champions such as the much sought after Shoebill Stork and Albertine Rift endemics. The opportunities to add to a life list are very attractive.

In late 2007, ORTPN committed itself to the development of its birding product so that travelers worldwide could benefit from Rwanda’s birds. As Rwanda continues to fine-tune its avitourism offering, it seeks to get feedback from experienced travelers and birders. Given the country’s small size, understanding the needs of birders such as yourself will allow Rwanda to best leverage its limited resources as it builds its avitourism product.

If you have 15-20 minutes, please consider filling out the Rwanda Avitourism Survey, as the results of this research will help Rwanda better understand the needs of birders, and to build the specific products and services that will exceed your expectations.

If you do agree to fill out this survey, please be assured that we will not try to sell you anything or ask for personally identifying information. Any information you provide will be treated with strict confidentiality and will only be represented in the aggregate.

If you would like to fill out the survey, please click here. Thank you for helping make Rwanda the world’s next “must visit” birding destination!

Jeremy H. Kahn

OTF Group – Creating prosperity in developing countries