Bird Watching Industry Taking Off In The Bahamas
There are over 100 bird species in The Bahamas and officials are hoping that these feathered friends will help cause a new billion-dollar niche market to take off.
Science Officer at Bahamas National Trust (BNT) Scott Johnson says many of the species that can be found are migratory, but the real moneymakers are the key endemic birds.
“If you are interested in being a bird tour guide, you need to focus on key species that are Bahamian and something that tourists would not see any place else and it really doesn’t get better than the island of Andros,” he said.
Four species of endemics here are the Bahamian Swallow, Bahama Yellow Throat, the Bahama Oreo and the Bahama Woodstar.
The birding industry is actually quite large.
In America alone, birding is a $32 billion activity.
“Today, a lot of these people touring are seeing these birds for the first time. People to come to The Bahamas just to see some of those key birds so that they can scratch them off their lists. It’s very cool that we have so many cool species in The Bahamas,” Mr. Johnson said.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (BMOT), the National Audubon Society (NAS) and the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) recently held a special bird watching training workshop in Central Andros to help train persons looking to get involved in this new, lucrative niche market.
The $2.6 billion project – funded by the Inter-American Development Bank – partners with local NGOs in Belize, The Bahamas, Guatemala and Paraguay to utilise the bird-watching market to create sustainable jobs in communities while simultaneously protecting biodiversity and natural resources.
And local interest continues to grow, Mr. Johnson said.
“When you get Bahamians to get away from Facebook and Google and all that other stuff they get a better appreciation for it,” he said. “Some of the birds are so colourful with yellows, blues and greens – so they are seeing a variety of different colours and just seeing how these birds are behaving brings out a sense of wonder and amazement. The only way you can really learn more about these birds is coming outside and seeing them for yourself.”
Wentworth Manson has become bird watching guide through family ties.
“In The Bahamas, we always knew about birds but we always called them the wrong names. This is a big business for the Androsian. Business is very slow here and this could help boost the island’s economy. For me, I can attract a lot of persons to come here so that they could learn more about birds,”
About 83 Bahamians have trained for bird watching as a result of the programme – 50 in Andros and 33 in Inagua.