The Sedibeng district municipality in partnership with the Gauteng Tourism Authority and Birdlife South Africa launched a Vaal Birding Route at Stonehaven harbor, in Vaal River in the Vaal yesterday afternoon. The project is believed will enable tourism stakeholders in the Vaal region and beyond to access the lucrative tourism market.
According to Gauteng Tourism Authority and Sedibeng district municipality, it (the project) is the first government initiated birding route in the country. Sedibeng district municipality mayor, Simon Mahole “Sy” Mofokeng, said the Vaal birding route covers the often unexplored grassland and pans of the southern portions of Gauteng Province and it’s set to provide visiting birders with a worthwhile alternative to the more often visited localities further north in the province.
Mofokeng said, “It extends from Devon in the East to the Vredefort Dome in the west and a wide variety of habitats occur along this route. Some of the many sites on the route can be found along the Vaal River in the Suikerbosrand nature reserve and the historical township of Sharpeville”.
He added by saying the Vaal River Birding Route cuts across borders as it extends from the regions within the Sedibeng district municipality (the Vaal) into some parts of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in the east of Gauteng, as well as Fezile Dabi district municipality in the northern Free State.
According to Mofokeng, the Vaal region has over 360 species of birds, including a number which is more easily seen here than anywhere else. He added: “Some of these species include the Eastern Long-billed Lark, yellow breasted pipit, grey-winger francolin, Northern Black Korhaan, just to name but few. Some tourism establishments within the region are already taking advantage of this opportunity by offering packaged birding tours”.
A senior manager at regional Gauteng Tourism Authority, Mathew Sethekge said they would always be part of Sedibeng municipality. He said “We are very proud to be associated with Sedibeng municipality. It is important that we create a landmark and attract tourism from abroad and airports to come and visit this area”.
Sethekge added by saying South Africa has a high species of rare birds in the world. “Sedibeng leads, let Sedibeng be a home of tourists, we are confident that the birds of the same feather will follow. In Gauteng we say it all starts here,” he concluded.