Birding is a very popular extension of many visitors' purpose in visiting National Parks.
Various parks host annual coordinated weekends of bird spotting activity where members of the public gather in parks and in teams or as individuals try and record as many different species in the park in approximately a 24-hour period.
The purpose of such designated birding weekends is to:
- Collect data on the avian (bird) species found in the given park.
- To expose and educate people about the wonders of Birding.
- Allow beginner birders to interact with more experienced birders.
- To allow birders access to restricted or difficult to reach areas often at key times, such as dawn.
- To raise money for various conservation 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.
Most of the SANParks birding events are organised by the various local regions of SANParks' Honorary Rangers who arrange things with the permanent staff of the affected parks. One should check the events page of the Honorary Rangers website for birding events not listed on the SANParks' website (http://www.sanparksvolunteers.org/events).
The Kruger Park Birding Weekends, facilitated by the West Rand Honorary Rangers, is one of the highlights on the annual birding calendar, and the biggest of these events, having been held annually at most of the camps in the park since 1999. 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 several difficult to access 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".
These events always rely on sponsors, but SASOL has been the primary sponsor for birding events for many years now.
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