Caribbean Aqua Terrestrial Solutions (CATS), supported by funding from the German government, handed over an aluminium boat and 50 HP four-stroke Yamaha outboard engine to the Mahaica River Birding Tour Group yesterday. Dr Horst Vogel, the Head of CATS, Annette Arjoon-Martins the Project Manager and Indranauth Haralsingh, Executive Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority, were all present at the ceremony.
The Mahaica group, which has been operating for a year now, is just one byproduct of training and capacity building workshops held with the aim of enabling communities in and around mangrove forested areas to make a living from protecting the mangroves.
Until now, the tour guides of the Mahaica River have been dependent on using fishing boats for their birding expeditions. Since their start a year ago, however, their tours (due to demand) have extended to include fishing trips and in the very near future, they will include a heritage tour to St Cuthbert’s Mission.
Additionally, the group receives support from Roraima Airways, which includes the Mahaica tours as a part of its ecotourism package.
According to Haralsingh, interest in birdwatching in Guyana is high and continuing to increase. GTA has been advocating for focus on coastal bird tourism, as over 400 species of birds can reportedly be found along Guyana’s coast and within the Botanical Gardens.
One of the Mahaica Tour guides, Raywantie Ram, remarked that although most of the support thus far has come from foreigners, locals too have been showing interest as many have never seen the country’s national bird, or encountered a Howler monkey.