Working for birds in Africa


Fri, 02/08/2013 - 09:53 -- abc_admin

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Image Credit: 
John Caddick

Africa is a continent of over 30 million km2, second only in size to Asia which is 50% larger in area. It has a very different population structure from Asia however with 850 million people, a life expectancy of 49 years and growth rate of 2.2% p.a. compared to Asia’s 3.8 billion people, a life expectancy of 67 years and a growth rate of 1.3% p.a. In both continents, some 40% of people live in urban areas. Nigeria, with a population of 124 million people, is the only country in Africa in the top ten countries by population in the world and it is in tenth place. No African country is in the top ten in the world in terms of population density.

Africa is some 6,500 km from west to east at its widest point and possibly slightly longer from north to south. Its major river systems are the Nile, at 6,695 km in length the world’s longest river, the Congo at 4,667 km, the Niger at 4,184 km and the Zambezi at 2,736 km. Its largest lakes are Lake Victoria at 68,800 km2, Lake Tanganyika at 32,900 km2 and Lake Nyasa (Malawi) at 30,044 km2 and its highest mountains are Kilimanjaro at 5,892 m, Kirinyaga (Kenya) at 5,199 m and Margherita Peak (Stanley) at 5,110 m.

The 2002 land cover map for the earth which is derived from satellite imagery shows the following vegetation classes as being significant in terms of the areas they occupy within Africa: evergreen broadleaf forests; woody savannas; savannas; open shrublands; barren or sparsely vegetated areas. One striking feature of the map is the heavily cultivated Nile delta and river margins north of the Aswan dam.

The major climatic zones in Africa are: Mediterranean (rainy climates with mild winters and a dry season in summer); Steppe (with dry or semi-arid climates); Desert (with arid climates); Savanna (rainy climate with dry season in winter); and Rain forest (with constant rainfall throughout the year).

Source: The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World 11th Edition 2003

The geographic area covered by the African Bird Club is designed to make sense from an avian viewpoint and hence varies a little from normal geopolitical boundaries. It includes mainland Africa and its immediate islands, and including North Africa; the Indian Ocean islands of Seychelles, Comoros, Madagascar and Mascarenes; Socotra; the southern ocean islands of Amsterdam, Kerguelen, Marion, Prince Edward, and Crozet; the islands on the mid Atlantic Ridge (Tristan group including Gough, Ascension and St Helena); and the Cape Verde Islands, Canaries, Madeira and the Azores. The map above shows the details.

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