Pentad quick find:

Welcome to the Southern African Bird Atlas Project


  • Added a quick pentad find to the home page
  • Added the submitted cards list to the pentad summary
  • Added a new option to the pentad maps to output a reporting rate ordered list of species
  • Added a new option to output a pentad list that includes sightings from the surrounding pentads



SABAP2 is the acronym for the Second Southern African Bird Atlas Project and is the follow-up on the Southern African Bird Atlas Project (for which the acronym was SABAP, and which is now referred to as SABAP1). The first atlas project took place from 1987-1991. The current project is a joint venture between the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town,BirdLife South Africa and the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The project aims to map the distribution and relative abundance of birds in southern Africa and the atlas area includes South AfricaLesotho and Swaziland. SABAP2 was launched in Namibia in May 2012. The second atlas project started on 1 July 2007 and plans to run indefinitely.

The field work for this project is done by more than a thousand volunteers, known as citizen scientists - they collect the data from the field at their own cost and in their own time and as such they make a huge contribution to the conservation of birds and their habitat. The unit of data collection is the pentad, five minutes of latitude by five minutes of longitude, squares with sides of roughly 9 km. There are 17000 pentads in the original atlas area of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, and a further 10000 in Namibia.

By December 2012, the SABAP2 database contained 80000 checklists, and a total of 4.2 million records of bird distribution. More than 65% of the original SABAP2 atlas area (ie South Africa, Lesotho and Swazilanad) had at least one checklist at this stage in the project's development. This information is updated continuously on the project website; see External links below.



Fifty per cent

FiftySABAP2 has reached 50% coverage of the 17318 pentads in the atlas region. This represents a stunning achievement by the 876 atlasers who have participated. Well done. Three and a bit years ago, when SABAP2 started, the idea of getting 8659 pentads visited seemed rather a remote idea. But we have made it happen.

Where to next? From here on in, I think it is clear that SABAP2 will go DEEP faster than it will go WIDE. The next major WIDE target to aim for is 10000 pentads – to get there by the end of the year 2011, we need to average 4.7 new pentads per day. This is manageable in comparison with the 6.5 new pentads per day we have achieved recently.

Here are some DEEP statistics. First of all, from every possible perspective, the second checklist for a pentad is really valuable. Frequently, one third to one half of the species on the second checklist are additional species for the pentad. Currently, 26.6% of all pentads have two or more checklists, which is in itself an impressive achievement. There are 4068 YELLOW pentads with only one checklist and these become a real priority for further checklists. Please treat every YELLOW pentad as if it has not yet been done! From a statistical perspective, four checklists for a pentad is absolutely the smallest sample size with which we can start to do sophisticated analyses. 15.2% of all pentads have four or more checklists and are GREEN or darker on the coverage map. So the statisticians who will analyse the SABAP2 data are encouraging atlasers to shift the YELLOW and ORANGE pentads to GREEN. Please help GREEN the coverage map. And if you can help to make it BLUE, RED, PURPLE and PINK, that is also great.

2014 could easily be SABAP2's best year for data collection!

Annual progress SABAP2

Team SABAP2, we could easily make 2014 the best year ever for the project.

The orange bars in this plot are the important ones. They show how many checklists were made for SABAP2, the second bird atlas project, in each year since the project started in July 2007. The project got off to a slow start! Fewer than 2000 checklists were made in between July and December 2007, and fewer than 10000 in 2008. But since then, the project has hovered around 17000 to 18000 checklists per year. 2010 was SABAP2's best year, by around 1000 checklists. There are certainly checklists from 2013 still to be submitted, so 2013 could easily actually be above 2012. So, in spite of fuel price increases, and all the economic pressures we are subjected to, Team SABAP2 has managed to maintain data collection at a remarkably consistent level.

Just past the middle of 2014, the number of checklists made this year is close to 9000. Knowing that there is lots of data for the year still to be submitted, the real total is likely to be above 9000. Extrapolating for the remainder of 2014, this year could easily rival 2010 as SABAP2's best year for data collection.

So we urge all atlasers to put their best foot forward for the remainder of 2014, and we urge any birders who are not yet atlasing to come on board. We are not near the end of SABAP2, we are near the beginning!

SABAP2 is the fundamental project to bird conservation in the region. It holds this status because a knowledge of bird distributions and how they are changing through time is the most important ingredient in taking decisions about which species are getting into trouble, and to prioritizing how resources should be spent on bird conservation initiatives.

Greater Kruger National Park Challenge – 2014 – the mid-year progress report says "Outstanding"

Greater KNP

The Second Southern African Bird Atlas Project has selected a few key areas for special annual attention. This reports on excellent progress with the Greater Kruger National Park Challenge for 2014.

Although the Greater Kruger National Park Challenge was set up at the start of 2014, we have not made a big deal of it.

This challenge supplements the annual atlasing effort on the Four Degree region, centred on the Johannesburg and Pretoria conurbation. This constitutes the Greater Gauteng challenge area and it is important because about 30% of South Africa’s population lives in it. The Kruger National Park and its environs are important because this is the premier conservation region in southern Africa. In the Greater Gauteng area, we need to monitor intensively because we fear that development will impact the birds. In the Kruger National Park, we need to monitor intensively because we hope that there will be little change to bird species composition through time. If there are changes, then it is due to causes other than “development.”

The underpinning paradigm for the Greater Kruger National Park Challenge is the same as for the Four Degrees region. We aim to go as wide as we can (ie to get full protocol checklists from as many pentads as possible) and we aim to go as high as we can (ie to build the stack of checklists on each pentad as high as possible).

We defined the region for the Greater Kruger National Park Challenge as every pentad east of 31E and north of 26S (and inside the South Africa border with Mozambique). This includes quite a lot of territory outside the park, but this is important because it enables “inside-outside” comparisons to be made. See the map below. There are a total of 671 pentads in the region. In 2013, atlasers visited 326 of the 671 pentads (48%) and accumulated a total of 1154 checklists. So for 2014, we decided that aiming to visit 350 pentads, and making 1250 checklists were realistic targets

How has Team SABAP2 Greater Kruger National Park fared? They have done remarkably well. By 8 July they had visited 283 pentads (that is 80.9% of the target). It looks as if we will be able to adjust the coverage target upwards! Already, 680 checklists (54.4% of the target) have been submitted. Just beyond the halfway stage of the year, this as pect the challenge is on track.

Atlasers, if you visit this region, please become part of Team SABAP2 Greater Kruger National Park, and help to monitor bird populations in one of Africa’s most important protected areas. SABAP2 is unique in being able to provide a broad-brush monitoring of all bird species across this large area.

Latest cards submitted (in order of submission)
  Date Pentad Observers name Species
on card
f2014-07-190010c3735Kamau, George65
f2014-07-262355_3105Sewards, John77
a2014-07-283405_1830Vanderwalt, Brian27
f2014-07-303340_1840Wingate, Gerald68
a2014-07-283400_1830Vanderwalt, Brian24
f2014-06-012820_2325Sutherland, Sandy49
f2014-06-082820_2325Sutherland, Sandy50
f2014-07-303405_1915Carter, John33
f2014-07-303400_1910Carter, John40
f2014-07-303400_1905Carter, John44
f2014-07-283210_2435Collett, Alan28
f2014-07-283340_1825Vanderwalt, Brian39
f2014-07-251805_3245Baker, Colin Trevor40
a2014-07-283345_1825Vanderwalt, Brian36
a2014-07-283350_1825Vanderwalt, Brian32
f2014-07-283355_1825Vanderwalt, Brian26
f2014-07-302505_2835Walden, Amanda B54
f2014-07-272215_1755Niddrie, Richard Paul67
a2014-07-093355_2220Van Wyngaard, Josef11
a2014-06-160010c3735Gitiri, John26
f2014-07-202720_3005Burchmore, John Anthony53
a2014-07-292715_3030Burchmore, John Anthony18
a2014-07-292715_3025Burchmore, John Anthony18
f2014-07-292855_3125Cox JH & KC, John & Kim41
f2014-07-302610_2805Paton, Anthony41
Gauteng 4DY and 3456 in 2014
Get all 576 pentads in the four degrees of 'Greater Gauteng' to YELLOW in 2014
Get 3456 checklists in total (average of 6 lists per pentad!)
Pentad with 0 cards 159 27.60%
Pentad with 1 or more cards 417 72.40%
Pentad with 2 or more cards 228 39.58%
Pentad with 3 or more cards 157 27.26%
Pentad with 4 or more cards 115 19.97%
Total cards submitted in 2014 2113
Total percentage submitted in 2014 61.14%
Greater Kruger National Park in 2014
Area East of 31°E and North of 26°S contains 671 pentads. The challenge for 2014 is to visit 350 pentads and make 1250 checklists.
Pentad with 0 cards 379  
Pentad with 1 or more cards 292 83.43%
Pentad with 2 or more cards 148 42.29%
Pentad with 3 or more cards 78 22.29%
Pentad with 4 or more cards 57 16.29%
Total cards submitted in 2014 784
Total percentage submitted in 2014 62.72%
Western Cape challenge 2014
Get 700 pentads and 2500 cards in the Western Cape in 2014
Pentad with 1 or more cards 449 64.14%
Pentad with 2 or more cards 186 26.57%
Pentad with 3 or more cards 112 16.00%
Pentad with 4 or more cards 85 12.14%
Total cards submitted in 2014 1309
Percentage of target 52.36%

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Page served: 31 Jul 2014
design and systems by Michael Brooks
Animal Demography Unit
University of Cape Town