Pentad quick find: 

The Southern African Bird Atlas Project - Monitoring into the future

Welcome to the Southern African Bird Atlas Project! SABAP2 is a citizen science project that is driven by the energy of several hundred volunteers who are mapping the distribution of birds across several southern African countries. SABAP2 is the follow-up project to the Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP1), which took place from 1987-1991. The second bird atlas project started on 1 July 2007 and is still growing. The project aims to map the distribution and relative abundance of birds in southern Africa and includes: South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, eSwatini, Zimbabwe, Zambia. To gather data, volunteers select a geographical ‘pentad’ on a map and record all the bird species seen within a set time frame, in order of species seen. This information is uploaded to the SABAP2 database and is used for research and analysis by several different agencies, including the South African National Biodiversity Institute, BirdLife South Africa, as well as academics and students at various universities.

As of January 2019, SABAP2 volunteers have collected more than 12 million records! This valuable dataset is key to determining the conservation status of bird species, correctly assigning red-list status and establishing Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, as well as forming the basis for informing environmental impact assessments. To gather valuable and useful data atlas coverage needs to be as thorough as possible. Ideally, each pentad should have a baseline of at least four comprehensive checklists (‘cards’), over several years and seasons. On the coverage maps this will mean a pentad turns ‘green’. Coverage intensity is scaled from yellow to dark purple, making it easy to identify which regions need more checklists. Some citizen scientists, Johan van Rooyen and his team for example, has taken the initiative to monitor an entire region to ensure that coverage is thorough and constant. Read more about their amazing work in the Hessequa region here

Atlasing also is fun, and gives your birding a purpose. If you are keen to get involved, click on the ‘How to Participate’ tab or get in touch via our Facebook Group or Page and we’ll help you get started!

SABAP2 is based at the University of Cape Town and is funded by the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology and the South African National Biodiversity Institute. The project is actively supported by BirdLife South Africa and BirdLasser.


Progress with 2016 atlasing in Hessequa by Johan Van Rooyen

After the Stilbaai Bird Club’s special push during the Autumn Attack, it is a good time to report on the progress with atlasing in Hessequa in 2016. We set three goals for 2016:
• Atlas each of the 77 pentads in Hessequa at least once
• Push the total cards for two quarter degree squares (3421AB and 3421AD) from dark green to light blue (7 to 11 cards)
• Get a better distribution of cards throughout the year by atlasing pentads in “empty” months only
The first picture shows the effect of the 118 cards submitted for 2016 up to 7 May. About 40 of these were done by visitors, mainly in the tourist and popular birding areas of Stilbaai/Jongensfontein, Gouritsmond/Voelvlei, Witsand/Port Beaufort and Grootvadersbos. Members of the Stilbaai Bird Club had the pleasure of covering the rest of the area and becoming even more familiar with the wonderful diversity that Hessequa has to offer.
The difference between the second picture (situation on 1 January 2016) and the third picture (situation on 7 May) is an indication of our progress in terms of turning the two quarter degree squares light blue.
Our Autumn Attack was concluded with a talk on the identification of local raptors attended by 24 members, followed by a very enjoyable braai.

Pentads with highest single card total: January 2019
Pentad Date Observer Species

Latest cards submitted (in order of submission)
  Date Pentad Observers name Species
on card
(FP only)
f2019-01-112850_2620Esplin, Toby3151
f2019-01-142605_2755Human, Dirk Maartens292227
a2019-01-183425_2025Smalberger, Estelle968
f2019-01-183425_2020Smalberger, Estelle41131
f2019-01-122555_2800Marx, Andre74421
f2019-01-132555_2750Egen, Grant61191
a2019-01-152220_1755Franke-Bryson, Ursula10
a2019-01-152220_1815Franke-Bryson, Ursula70
a2019-01-152220_1750Franke-Bryson, Ursula20
a2019-01-152220_1735Franke-Bryson, Ursula11
a2019-01-152225_1725Franke-Bryson, Ursula310
a2019-01-152220_1810Franke-Bryson, Ursula30
a2019-01-152230_1715Franke-Bryson, Ursula16
a2019-01-152220_1805Franke-Bryson, Ursula50
a2019-01-152225_1730Franke-Bryson, Ursula52
a2019-01-152225_1735Franke-Bryson, Ursula27
a2019-01-152220_1800Franke-Bryson, Ursula42
a2019-01-152220_1740Franke-Bryson, Ursula41
f2019-01-142035_1720Franke-Bryson, Ursula71
f2019-01-092035_1720Franke-Bryson, Ursula114
f2019-01-092930_3015Buchmann, Eckhart 73295
f2019-01-182855_2950Buchmann, Eckhart 5619
f2019-01-173355_2520Brown, Dave55149
f2019-01-092735_2935Pretorius, Morne10871
Turning Wakkerstroom Green in 2019
For more detailed data, go to Challenge data
Pentad with 0 cards 107 97.27% 428 cards needed
Pentad with 1 card 2 1.82% 6 cards needed
Pentad with 2 cards 1 0.91% 2 cards needed
Pentad with 3 cards 0 0.00% 0 cards needed
Pentad with 4 or more cards 0 0.00% 0 cards needed
Total cards submitted 4
Total cards needed 436
Strategic Environmental Assessment

A "Strategic Environmental Assessment" (SEA) is being led by Professor Bob Scholes of the University of the Witwatersrand. The purpose of the SEA is to make informed decision about fracking, if the reserves of shale gas in the central Karoo prove viable. So the challenge to us, as citizen scientists, is to accumulate as much data as we can for all our ADU atlas projects, both for the birds and for all the groups of species in the Virtual Museum (see Data collected up to about the middle of next year will help influence decisions made about where fracking can take place, and about how it is done. The South African government has already taken the decision to go ahead. Other countries have simply gone ahead without doing a proper biodiversity baseline study. At least we have been given an opportunity to influence the where and the how.

For the bird atlas, the objective is going to be to get as much of this area to "foundational" coverage of four checklists per pentad. In other words, we don't only want to target the pentads which are not yet visited, we also want to target those with one, two or three pentads, and get them to a minimum of four checklists on the coverage map, and turn them GREEN. It is the SEA-GREEN challenge. But the more data we get for any pentad within this region the better; for those pentads for which we already havelots of checklists, we have a baseline against which to measure future change in species composition. This needs lots of checklists!

Study area data link
(Please note this is a large area, and as such will be slow to load)

Pentad with 0 cards 729 22.89%
Pentad with 1 or more cards 2456 77.11%
Pentad with 2 or more cards 1666 52.31%
Pentad with 3 or more cards 1193 37.46%
Pentad with 4 or more cards 920 28.89%
Total cards submitted in SEA area 15921
GEM, Greening the Escarpment of Mpumlanga.
GEM is the follow-on project for BirdLife Lowveld at the conclusion of Turning Kruger Green. The GEM area contains 233 pentads. In the northwest corner is pentad 2450_3015 with 2700_3055 in the southeast corner. This is the Mpumalanga Escarpment. Many of these pentads contain Sappi forests. The challenge is to build up SABAP2 coverage so that every pentad has a minimum of four checklists, and hence the name: Greening the Escarpment of Mpumalanga, a GEM of a project..
For more detailed data, go to Challenge data
Pentad with 0 cards 1 0.43% 4 cards needed
Pentad with 1 card 24 10.30% 72 cards needed
Pentad with 2 cards 28 12.02% 56 cards needed
Pentad with 3 cards 25 10.73% 25 cards needed
Pentad with 4 or more cards 300 128.76% 0 cards needed
Total cards submitted 5833
Total cards needed 157
Greater Kruger National Park in 2019
Area East of 31°E and North of 26°S contains 446 pentads. The challenge for 2019 is to make 2000 checklists and submit 67 cards for 40 pentads.
For more detailed data, go to Challenge data
Pentad with 0 cards 197 49.25% 788 cards needed
Pentad with 1 card 56 14.00% 168 cards needed
Pentad with 2 cards 35 8.75% 70 cards needed
Pentad with 3 cards 22 5.50% 22 cards needed
Pentad with 4 or more cards 136 34.00% 0 cards needed
Total cards submitted 2461
Cards needed in the remaining 40 yellow and orange pentads to turn them green 1048
Total percentage submitted in 2019 123.05%
Gauteng 4DY and 3456 in 2019
Get all 576 pentads in the four degrees of 'Greater Gauteng' to YELLOW in 2019
Get 3456 checklists in total (average of 6 lists per pentad!)
Pentad with 0 cards 462 80.21%
Pentad with 1 or more cards 114 19.79%
Pentad with 2 or more cards 45 7.81%
Pentad with 3 or more cards 28 4.86%
Pentad with 4 or more cards 19 3.30%
Total cards submitted in 2019 275
Total percentage submitted in 2019 7.96%
Free State challenge
Make the Free State Green!
Pentad with 1 or more cards 1850 99.41%
Pentad with 2 or more cards 1421 76.36%
Pentad with 3 or more cards 892 47.93%
Pentad with 4 or more cards 726 39.01%
Total cards submitted 15437
KwaZulu-Natal challenge
Make KwaZulu-Natal Green!
Pentad with 1 or more cards 1288 99.54%
Pentad with 2 or more cards 1165 90.03%
Pentad with 3 or more cards 957 73.96%
Pentad with 4 or more cards 853 65.92%
Total cards submitted 29762

Page served: 19 Jan 2019
design and systems by Michael Brooks
Animal Demography Unit
University of Cape Town