Catherine Camacho reports for La Prensa:
Bolivia entered the top five in the world ranking of the countries with the highest bird sightings during the Global Big Day (GBD) that took place last Saturday, in which 171 nations participated.
“Bolivia ranked fifth in this event, which is an important achievement. More than 890 species of registered birds were reached, almost 65 percent of those that are present in the country, and only in one day,” explains the ornithologist José Antonio Balderrama, who leads the Bolivian list of the largest observers in the country. GBD.
Thanks to the more than 120 “birders” (as bird watchers are known) who spotted 898 species registered in 320 lists, the country ranks fifth. Colombia holds the first place (1,590), followed by Peru (1,516), Ecuador (1,144) and Brazil (1,018).
The country has 1,437 registered bird species. It is the fifth nation with the largest bird species in America and sixth worldwide.
The interviewees agree that this year there was more organization and greater participation of people who love birds in all the departments – more in La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz and not in Oruro and Potosí. They clarify that more support is needed (from the Government, mayorships, societies), training and organization.
This could be evidenced in the figures by department. In La Paz, the highest number of sightings was recorded, with 472; in Cochabamba, 430; in Santa Cruz, 405; in Beni, 319; in Tarija, 223; in Chuquisaca, 197; in Pando, 129; in Potosí 51, and in Oruro, 23.
The GBD seeks to raise awareness about the importance of bird conservation and its main threats.
Being among the top five countries launches Bolivia among the most important destinations in the world for avitourism.
“Avitourism is a sustainable economic activity that moves millions of people and generates many resources for the destination countries,” explains Márton Hardy, communication officer of the Asociación Civil Armonía.
The biologist Vincent Vos emphasizes that the Global Big Day “helps show this potential, convince the authorities so that we can work more strategically.”
“This activity (bird watching) is just beginning in Bolivia, mainly on the initiative of entrepreneurs, small entrepreneurs or organizations,” says Rodrigo Soria, executive director of the Asociación Civil Armonía.
He explains that more support is needed at the state level. “Avitourism is not within the horizon for the Government, which needs to create more friendly policies of encouragement and in the development of avitourism at the infrastructure and training level. Bolivia has the potential to do so,” he explains.
“Indeed, we did not manage to reach the thousand species we had dreamed of,” says Vos; but “finding this amount in a single day shows the enormous potential that there is for bird tourism,” he stresses.
He explains that the weather was one of the main drawbacks because in many places it rained. “In Riberalta and in key areas such as Iturralde, Yungas and Chapare there was an unfavorable climate for bird activity,” he said.
In addition, the biologist Suzanne Vargas points out that in the southern hemisphere there is more chance of seeing more birds in October than in May, due to the migrations of the birds.Also, Vargas explains that also the inaccessibility to some places (trees fallen on roads and high water) prevented reaching destination, but still had good results.
Vargas recommends more practice, short courses and, above all, field trips.
“It is not the same to learn about birds from a book or in a classroom than to see them in the field in each position, under different lights, doing different activities,” he stresses.
The interviewees agree that, in terms of participation, more people were involved.
“The fundamental thing is just the involvement of many more people with bird watching and their approach to nature,” says Diego Méndez, president of the Bolivian Association of Ornithology (Asbor).
“It’s about making other people aware. Each new bird watcher is a new protector of nature, “says Vos.
The organization helped to ensure greater participation by the observers themselves, but also greater planning in terms of routes where institutions and people who were involved participated.
More than 32 thousand people. This year, the world contest had the participation of more than 32 thousand people who reported bird sightings in 85,763 lists. Among all, reported 6,826 birds of different species. The day was held on May 4 and lasted for 24 hours.
Organization. The Global Big Day is promoted by the eBird platform of the Laboratory of Ornithology of the University of Cornell (United States). In Bolivia, it is promoted by the Asociación Civil Armonía, the Bolivian Association of Ornithology (Asbor) and the Bird Observation Club of Bolivia (CORA -Bolivia).