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'Honorary Rangers' Birding Events
Birding is a very popular extension of many visitors purpose in visiting National Parks.
The Honorary Rangers have turned the bird spotting activity into annual focused events where members of the public gather in parks and in teams try and record as many different species in the park in approximately a 24-hour period at Birding Events. Updates of these events are hosted on the Birding Forum.
The purpose of such designated birding weekends is to:
Collect data on the avian (bird) species found in the given park or set region of that park.
To expose and educate people about the wonders of Birding.
Allow beginner birders to interact with more experienced hands.
To raise money for various park projects that are beyond the limited budget of South African National Parks.
To have a lot of fun watching birds and experiencing related Park activities.
Both the Kruger and Marakele events have several sponsors, but the primary sponsor for both events is SASOL.
Currently Birding Weekends are held annually in a number of parks including West Coast (hosted by the West Coast Honorary Rangers), Golden Gate, Marakele, Bontebok and Kgalagadi as well as in the Soutspansberg Forests (Co-hosted by Marakele HRs and Limpopo Bird Route and sponsored by Glendower Whisky).
The Kruger Park Birding Weekend, facilitated by the West Rand Honorary Rangers, is one of the highlights on the annual birding calender, and the biggest of these events. Not only is Kruger Park one of the top birding areas in the country, it is a weekend of camaraderie between likeminded people, with birders from across the country descending on the park. The Rangers carefully select normally inaccessable areas for the birding drives and normal gate times at the camps no longer apply, with drives leaving at three or four in the morning and arriving at wonderful birding spots by sunrise for the dawn chorus.