File photo taken on April 1, 2011 shows a bird weaver on a branch of a tree in Mbarara, west Uganda. (Xinhua/Yuan Qing)
By Ronald Ssekandi, Yuan Qing
ENTEBBE, Uganda, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Wendy Maltinsky is a birder from the United Kingdom. Her passion for birds stems from her family back in Scotland. They have moved around the world in search for unique bird species.
Maltinsky is in Uganda to attend the first ever African Birding Expo that has attracted over 100 birders from Europe and the United States.
The event, which opened on Friday, is held here 40km south of the capital Kampala, on the shores of Lake Victoria.
Uganda is using the expo to showcase that it is a birding paradise.
The country is endowed with over 1,000 bird species that account for 10 percent of the globe's total bird species and 50 percent of Africa's bird species population.
All this is possible because of the richly diverse habitats from the scenic shores of Lake Victoria to the lush forests of the Albertine Rift and the banks of River Nile.
Uganda was declared Africa's Preferred Birding Destination in 2013 after Africa Bird Club voted two of its birding sites among the top 10 birders' destinations on the continent.
"The birds here are very brightly colored, we do have some of those in the United Kingdom but not as much as here," Maltinsky told Xinhua in an interview.
Laura Kammermeier, a travel writer from New York, described her birding experience in Uganda as magical.
"They (birds) are so many, they have beautiful shapes and colours. They are really exciting to see and easy to find," she said.
Nate Swick of the American Birding Association urged Uganda to fully exploit the country's potential.
Uganda Tourism Board, a government agency charged with promoting tourism, argues that birding is one of the most important tourist activities in the world, garnering chunks of money for countries that have given it priority.
The agency argued that the country now needs to market birding to reap from the tourist attraction.
Tourism now ranks as Uganda's top foreign exchange earner, contributing over 23 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product.