South Africa | Rockjumper Birding Tours | Kruger Birding & Wildlife Challenge

This unique and fun birding and wildlife challenge provides the opportunity to explore the world-famous Kruger National Park in north-eastern South Africa, from its remote north to its vast south. Participants will not only get to experience amazing birding and wildlife viewing, but will also be assisting in saving a special bird from imminent extinction. All proceeds raised will go directly to BirdLife South Africa for vital research and conservation work to protect one of Africa’s, and indeed the world’s, most endangered and little-known species – the White-winged Flufftail. Rockjumper Birding Tours has volunteered its resources and expertise to arrange and coordinate this event and will not be benefitting financially from it.

Kruger National Park is one of Africa’s most famous, oldest, largest and magnificent reserves, and will play host to this birding and wildlife challenge during February 2019. In total, a maximum of 21 teams will take part in what will be a lighthearted, exciting competition where teams explore Kruger National Park from top to bottom, recording all the species of birds and mammals they encounter over a 9-day period. Each team of up to 9 participants will have its own open safari vehicle, professional safari driver-guide and experienced volunteer birding leader. Each species of bird and mammal has been allocated points based on the difficulty of locating the species, and the team with the highest score at the end of the 9 days will be crowned the Birding & Wildlife Champions of Kruger. During the challenge, each team will be exploring the entire length of Kruger – from Berg-en-Dal Camp in the south to Punda Maria in the north. In total, 6 camps will be used, the others being Skukuza, Olifants, Shingwedzi and Mopani – the last mentioned where all the teams will gather for an epic final night of festivities and prize-giving.

The Kruger list stands at over 500 species of birds, and the park is also renowned for its big game and other mammalian fauna (over 150 species recorded to date). This is one of the few places on the planet where iconic African mammals such as Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, African Wild Dog, African Elephant, African Buffalo and White Rhinoceros can still be found in healthy numbers. There is also a huge variety of other mammals, including Roan Antelope, Hippopotamus, Black Rhinoceros, African Civet, Honey Badger, Serval and Cape Porcupine.

Top Five Birds

  1. Common Ostrich
  2. Kori Bustard
  3. Red-crested Korhaan
  4. Southern Ground Hornbill
  5. Bateleur

Ethics

At Terra Incognita we support tours that do good in the world. They must help to conserve the environment, support local people, and educate their guests. Here’s what Patrick Meyer from Rockjumper Birding Tours said to us…

What conservation activities do you support through the tour, and your wider operations?

 All proceeds raised will go directly to BirdLife South Africa for vital research and conservation work to protect one of Africa’s, and indeed the world’s, most endangered and little-known species – the White-winged Flufftail. Rockjumper Birding Tours has volunteered its resources and expertise to arrange and coordinate this event and will not be benefiting financially from it.

How does the tour support local people?

 By bringing in 190 birdwatchers and birding enthusiasts the tour will directly influence many local South Africans. Everyone associated with the accommodation establishments that we are using, specifically SANPARKS camps in Kruger (Berg-en-dal, Skukuza, Satara, Olifants, Shingwedzi and Punda Maria). All transport 21 open air vehicles will also be rented from local South African businesses and will all have local driver/guides who will be the groups every day.

Over 200 people will be eating at restaurants throughout Kruger every day of the event. This figure includes guides and assistant staff. Most guests will also require pre and post tour accommodations which will again with local service providers in Johannesburg. Further than this the profits generated by this initiative will all be ploughed back into White-winged Flufftail research which will again lead to job generation and should more populations of this species be found would not only be fantastic for the bird but also local communities that can then benefit from the tourism possibilities that a rare species could provide.

What type of environmental education activities do you incorporate into your tour?

 These will be conducted by the guides on the tour and will largely revolve around educating people about the White-winged Flufftail. At the end of the event there will be a lecture given about White-winged Flufftail and the ongoing conservation and what we know about the species. The entire experience will be fully guided for everyone who has signed up, so plenty of other learnings will also take place regarding the birds of Kruger and further afield, the mammals, reptiles, ecology etc.

Review

It’s almost impossible to pick a favourite moment with Rockjumper because there are so many incredible ones! Parrots in the hundreds coming to a night roost on a tiny Raja Ampat island; Wilson’s bird of paradise displaying for the female; thunder and lightning, rainbows, and glorious sunsets travelling with 12 others and a wonderful crew from all parts of Indonesia; a Chinese Crested tern standing out among hundreds of Greater Crested – the list goes on.

However, the trips also drive home a most important message and a call for action. We travelled on small tenders to some tiny remote islands, many uninhabited, where the beaches were literally covered in plastic of all types. Twice our small tender was decommissioned by plastic sheets entangled around the propeller – call to action that for all of us must start at home!

There is no doubt that Rockjumper’s tours provide a reason to protect the environment and local species. An example was our experienced local guide in Thailand, who as a youngster made his living capturing and selling birds like Gurney’s Pitta, but now guides and fights for the survival of species.

Unlike some companies, Rockjumper involves local guides and always assures that local people in hotels, travel, etc. are tipped and involved. They try to minimize plastic use and other waste and contribute to various ecological organizations.

Rockjumper stands out for their strong front office support with rapid responses, tours that run smoothly, quality guiding, reasonable costs and a great choice of tours. A truly outstanding and memorable trip with a unique pair of guides, the Valentine brothers. Don’t miss this unique tour as who knows how long it will be possible for it to continue to run! Alasdair Hunter, Rockjumper Birding Tours, over 30 tours from Madagascar and South Africa, 2004 to the remote West Papuan Islands, 2017.

• Experience of the tour = 5/5
• Tour’s contribution to conservation = 5/5
• Tour’s contribution to local communities = 5/5
• The education the tour = 4/5

Images

Contact

Tour Operator | Rockjumper Birding Tours
Contact Name | Patrick Meyer
Contact Email |  [email protected]
Website |  https://www.rockjumperbirding.com/
Tour | https://www.rockjumperbirding.com/tours/kruger-bird-challenge-2019

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