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This blog was last updated on 14 December 2021. It was originally posted on 02 June 2020.
14 December 2021 update: we’ve donated all of the money (US$13,800) you’ve so generously given us, to local guides around the world who desperately need the money.
24 June 2021 alert: we’ve donated US$10,531, slightly more than the $10,487 many of you so kindly donated to this relief fund, so the money is now used up. As the pandemic continues, we have realized that there is still a desperate need for more relief funds, so we’re calling on you to consider donating more, our new aim is now $20,000. The continuing need for financial relief for these community guides is critical, as their situations are still dire, so we are now aiming to reach 200 % of our original goal of $10,000, and we have set our new goal to $20,000. The names of anyone who donates money to this relief fund, from today’s date (24 June 2021) until the date we reach our $20,000 goal, will be entered into a draw and the lucky winner will be given a $500 voucher towards any tour of their choice!
Being a global tour company we have developed deep and lasting friendships and business relationships with many people all over the world. We absolutely love birding with our clients – for the thrill of birding but also for the meaningful conversations about a whole host of other things. We can truly say that many of our clients have become cherished friends. We also love working with the local communities that make birding possible in remote parts of the world. We have worked with the people in some of these communities for almost two decades since our company was founded, and their stories have become a very important part of our story.
In a very real sense, a large part of the community benefits every time a birding tour group visits. Avi-tourism is a source of income for the local guide and all the people involved in providing accommodation and meals. Very often these people are in economically impoverished areas, where any suitable alternative employment is extremely scarce. Breadwinners are usually financially responsible for supporting both children and elderly parents. When communities realize that their environment can be a valuable source of employment and income they are motivated to care for and protect their environment. Often these same people were previously involved with logging or hunting but are now showing birds to people. These local tour guides often turn out to be the “activists” who educate their communities as to a more sustainable way of life.
During this extremely difficult time of COVID-19 (read our COVID-19 blog here) we have had desperate appeals for assistance from some of our service providers globally. Previously these folks were earning good livings, but suddenly the pandemic brought this to a sudden halt. We’ve been paying some guides and other local service providers advances on trips they were meant to help us with in 2020, but which have now been postponed by a year. However, we don’t have unlimited funds available, so you might consider donating any amount (from $5 to $1000 or whatever), and we’ll make sure your money goes straight to the people who need it most (we won’t keep any of it for admin fees etc. and will simply pay it onward so community guides will be able to afford food for themselves and their families).
BirdLife South Africa is running a magnificent relief effort. (read about it on our website here.) However, the BirdLife effort is only applicable to South Africa, and we would like to extend the opportunity to provide financial relief across the planet where it is needed most. Through your generous donations we will primarily be providing financial relief to people who we have worked with, so we trust them and know that the money will be well used. You have the option of letting us allocate the money to wherever we deem the greatest need to be, or you can request the money to be allocated to a specific guide or community if you have already toured, or have a tour booked, with us and would like to nominate a specific beneficiary.
Birding Ecotours will be donating administrative time to this effort, so all money you pay will reach the intended beneficiaries (although banks will take some fees). Our global infrastructure allows you to make payment in various different ways, e.g. by Paypal, by Mastercard/VISA/AMEX, into a US Bank Account (by check, wire etc.), into a UK bank account, into a South African ZAR, Euro, GBP or USD bank account (check, money transfer, etc.). We will then be able to transfer the money to the beneficiary in the most efficient way, taking exchange rates and bank fees into account. We are pleased to be able to say that we, as a company, have fortunately been in a position to be able to make some such donations to some very worthy recipients. But more is needed!
One of Andy’s birding tour groups in New Guinea, with a local guide and support staff from a great homestay we use there.
Dylan and local guides birding in Budongo Forest, Uganda.
Dylan with a local guide and his group having just seen Sri Lanka Bay Owl!
Dylan with local guide and group, birding Jamnagar, Gujarat, India (having just seen flocks of Crab-plover).
Dylan with group and local guide, on our winter Bulgaria tour (having just seen Red-breasted Goose).