Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2

South Africa, eSwatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi

a member of the African Bird Atlas Project

About the SABAP2 project

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.

Since 2007, more than 17 million records have been collected with about 2 million more being added each year. 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.

Atlasing 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.

SABAP2, growing knowledge through the BIRDIE project

What is the BIRDIE Project?

This project aims to improve and leverage two citizen science-based freshwater bird monitoring data sets which are rich in detail, and spatial and temporal resolution but are not currently being effectively applied in species and wetland ecosystem conservation and management. The Coordinated Waterbird Counts (CWAC) project, part of South Africa's commitment to international waterbird conservation, has wetland bird counts going back to the 1970s. The Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP) phase 2 started in 2007 and collects approximately 1 million records per year.

SANBI is currently collaborating with the FitzPatrick Institute for African Ornithology (FIAO, UCT) and the Centre for Statistics in Ecology, Environment and Conservation (SEEC at the University of Cape Town, UCT) on collecting, curating and analysing these critical freshwater bird data sets. We recognise the step-change in value that we could get from our existing work by developing and automating statistical computing work flows and data visualization techniques and working with Seascape Belgium, and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) to develop these into a dynamic web application. These partners bring statistical modelling capacity and coordination to understand the management challenges and threats to water birds and their associated wetland habitats in South Africa, including a rigorous comparison of statistical model outputs with a full suite of species, and streamlining of methods.

Latest Resources

*New* The African Bird Atlas Project: a description of the project and BirdMap data-collection protocol, Michael Brooks, Sanjo Rose, Res Altwegg, Alan TK Lee1, Henk Nel, Ulf Ottosson, Ernst Retief,-Chevonne Reynolds, Peter G Ryan, Sidney Shema, Talatu Tende, Les G Underhill andRobert L Thomson, 2022

Oliver Tambo International Airport, South Africa: Land-Use Conflicts Between Airports and Wildlife Habitats, Robinson, L., Mearns, K. and McKay, T., 2021

Bird is the word, Lee, Alan, 2022

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Latest Full Protocol submissions


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