South Africa offers a range of birding habitats, from grasslands, wetlands and forests, to savannahs, fynbos, the seashore and open oceans. Bird-watching in South Africa allows birders to explore a diverse range of habitats. These habitats offer a spectacular diversity of beautiful birds, from the diminutive, fynbos-restricted Orange-breasted Sunbird to the large, desert-adapted Ludwig's Bustard. A remarkable 841 bird species are found in South Africa, about eight percent of the world's bird species. Seventy-four species are endemic to South Africa, i.e. they do not occur naturally anywhere else in the world.
BirdLife South Africa's Avitourism Division developed the concept of birding routes. Birding routes provide information and resources to local and international birders on where to go, what to see, who to go birding with and where to stay within a certain geographical area. An exciting initiative along all the birding routes is the availability of Community Bird Guides. The guides are affordable; provide improved security and valuable information on where elusive and special bird species may be found.
Specifically the aims of the birding routes are:
The overall objective of the Birding Routes is to achieve meaningful socio-economic benefits for local communities as well as conservation benefits by using avitourism to increase the competiveness of the region. Through these birding routes, BirdLife South Africa seeks to achieve their conservation objectives by giving birds and their habitats an economic value.
In addition, the routes initiate a number of local community projects aimed at promoting the conservation of birds and their habitats by giving birds an economic value to the communities in which the route is situated.