Working for birds in Africa



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Birding tours

Birdquest and Birding Ecotours have organised birding tours to the Comoros Islands.


We know of no local bird guides on Mayotte. 

Trip report

You can download an excellent trip report sent by Phil Gregory of Sicklebill Safaris in December 2014. All the main islands of the Comoros were visited and all the endemic species were seen. There are details of transport, hotels and other items of value for the visitor.


Planes fly daily between Reunion and Dzaoudzi, the airport / military base in Mayotte. For a return flight from Paris to Mayotte, you would expect to pay at least €800.

Kenya Airways announced flights from Nairobi to Mayotte via Comoros in November 2006. This is an extension of their Paris - Nairobi flights. 

The political situation means that Mayotte is difficult to use as a jumping-off point to the other islands. Hopping from island to island can be done by plane. All four islands are connected by a network of shipping routes, and catching boats and ferries is usually the cheapest method of getting from island to island.

October to December are the best months to visit - before the rains set in, but when bird activity is reasonably high. There are adequate hotels and the easiest way to get around Mayotte is with bush taxis ("taxitbrousse") who will take you around the island for a few euros.

See also wikitravel.  


See the following websites for the latest safety and travel information: and UK FCO.


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Comoros map of distribution of endemic species

Image Credit: 
Courtesy: © Naturalistes de Mayotte

Country checklist and status

You can download and print a checklist for the 87 species recorded on Mayotte.

Endemic species

Comoro Blue Pigeon Alectroenas sganzini All four islands
Comoro Olive Pigeon Columba pollenii All four islands
*Mayotte Scops Owl Otus mayottensis Mayotte only
Mayotte Sunbird Cinnyris coquerellii Mayotte only
*Chestnut-sided White-eye Zosterops mayottensis Mayotte only
Mayotte Drongo Dicrurus waldenii Mayotte only


* Note that Michel Louette does not consider these to be full species.


Some of the endemic birds are threatened, especially the scops owls and the Mayotte race of the Red-headed Fody Foudia eminentissima algondae, which has a patchy distribution in discrete spots of dry vegetation, contrary to its counterparts on the other islands which prefer humid habitat. Some are restricted to very small ranges. Only few endemics survive in the non-forest zone. These preferences are probably related to the vegetation history of the islands. The sunbirds have adapted best to the areas under human influence, because of the abundance of exotic flowers. The near endemic Frances's Sparrowhawk Accipiter francesiae occurs in surprisingly high density on Mayotte.

Near endemic species (found in a few Indian Ocean islands only)

*Madagascar Heron Ardea humbloti Comoros and Mayotte
*Frances’s Sparrowhawk Accipiter francesiae Grande Comore, Anjouan, Mayotte
*Cuckoo Roller Leptosomus discolor All four islands
*Madagascar Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone mutata All four islands

* Also on Madagascar. Note that Michel Louette considers Red-headed Fody Foudia eminentissima to be conspecific with Forest Fody F.omissa.

Threatened species

Madagascar Heron Ardea humbloti Vulnerable
Mayotte Drongo Dicrurus waldenii Critical

The lists of endemic, near endemic and threatened species have been compiled from a number of sources including Louette 2004, the African Bird Club, BirdLife International, and Birds of the World Version 2.0 ¨ 1994-1996, Dr. Charles Sibley and Thayer Birding Software, Ltd.


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HORNBUCKLE, J. (1997) Recent observations of birds in the Comoros. ABC Bulletin 4(1) pp 43-45.

LAFONTAINE, R.M. and MOULAERT, N. Une nouvelle espèce de petit-duc (Otus, Aves) aux Comores: taxonomie et statut de conservation. ABC Bulletin 6(1) pp 61-65.

LOUETTE M., ABDÉRÉMANE H., YAHAYA I. & MEIRTE D. (2008) Atlas des oiseaux nicheurs de la Grande Comore, de Mohéli et d'Anjouan. Mus. Roy. Afr. Centr. 294. ISBN : 978-9-0747-5237-4.

LOUETTE, M. (2004) Oiseaux. in: LOUETTE, M., MEIRTE, D. & JOCQUE R. (eds). La faune terrestre de l'archipel des Comores. Studies in Afrotropical Zoology (MRAC, Tervuren). 293 pp 1-456. ISBN : 90-75894-63-5.

This is an update of the 2 following publications.

LOUETTE, M. (1988) Les Oiseaux des Comores. Annls. Mus. r. afr. Centrale (Zool)., 255 pp 1-192. A detailed avifauna of these Indian Ocean islands, with chapters on climate, geography and habitats, and details of status, taxonomy and description for all species. Text in French, with an English summary. 192 pages, 8 col photos, 27 b/w photos, 33 figs & maps, line illus.

LOUETTE, M. (1999) Oiseaux. in LOUETTE, M. (Ed). La faune terrestre de Mayotte. Annls. Mus. Roy. Afr. Centr. 284 pp 60-113.

LOUETTE, M., MEIRTE, D. & JOCQUE R. (eds). (2004) La faune terrestre de l'archipel des Comores. Studies in Afrotropical Zoology (MRAC, Tervuren). 293 pp 1-456.

SAFFORD, R.J. Comoros pp 185 - 190 and Mayotte pp 597 - 601 in FISHPOOL, L.D.C. and EVANS, M.I. editors (2001) Important Bird Areas in Africa and Associated Islands: Priority sites for conservation. Newbury and Cambridge, UK. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11).

WHITE, R. (2011) First record of Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni for the Comoros. ABC Bulletin 18(1) pp 79-80.

Important Bird Areas

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The Comoro archipelago is classed as a single Endemic Bird Area (EBA) with 19 restricted-range species. 9 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) have been identified in total of which 5 are on Mayotte, covering some 7,000 ha or 19% of the land area. Most IBAs are unprotected by law. The IBAs and the islands on which they are situated are as follows.

Mount Karthala Grande Comore
La Grille Grande Comore
Mohéli highlands Mohéli
Anjouan highlands Anjouan
Hachiroungou Mayotte
Mlima Combani and Mlima Mtsapéré Mayotte
Mlima Bénara Mayotte
Baie de Bouéni Mayotte
Mlima Choungui and Sazilé Mayotte


​Hachiroungou comprises the massif in the north-west of Mayotte. The entire community of 14 species of forest birds found on the island are at this site. Populations are small in line with the forest fragments remaining although species are common. Mayotte Drongo Dicrurus waldenii is found only in forest and forest edge.

Mlima Combani and Mlima Mtsapéré is made up of the mountain massif in the north-centre of the island. All 14 forest species are found and because of its size, it may be the most important area for Mayotte Drongo Dicrurus waldenii.

Mlima Bénara is dominated by the peak at 660 m, the highest on Mayotte. All 14 forest dwelling birds on Mayotte are found here.

Baie de Bouéni comprises the coastal fringe of the large bay in south-west Mayotte. Most of the forest birds of Mayotte occur but the small population of Red-headed Fody Foudia eminentissima is of special importance. This is also a good site for shorebirds.

Mlima Choungui and Sazilé includes peaks which dominate the southern peninsula and the site contains the main block of forest of the peninsula. Most of the forest birds occur at this site although Mayotte Drongo Dicrurus waldenii is absent. There is also an important population of Red-headed Fody Foudia eminentissima.

For further details, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International.


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See also the IBAs section.

Moya-Papani, Mayotte is situated on the north-east coast of Petite Terre (Mayotte) and is linked with a specific geology dating from approximately 10,000 years ago. Petite Terre constitutes one of the rare examples in the world of a volcanic system crossing a coral barrier. Since its creation, marine erosion has sculpted spectacular landscapes of beaches and cliffs, with exceptional ecological constituents. The cliffs shelters specific fauna and flora, while the beaches represent the second nesting site in Mayotte for turtles. This site is important for tropicbirds.

The lagoon of Pamandzl, or "Vasière des Badamiers", Mayotte. To the north of Dzaoudzi-Labattoir (Petite Terre, Mayotte), the coastal currents have created a detrital cordon beyond which a mud-pool has been formed progressively where brackish water undergoes a significant level range because of the tides. This biotope contains three successive habitats: a rocky area formed by the remains of the fringing reef, a mangrove swamp and a mud-pool which is sometimes uncovered, sometimes submerged. The three habitats are an important refuge for waders, herons (Madagascar Heron Ardea humbloti has been seen here for the last few years) and hundreds of terns during the migration or wintering periods. The mud-pool also attracts Crab-plovers Dromas ardeola, a bird which is present throughout the west of the Indian Ocean, but whose favourite sites are tending to become rarer. This site is unique in the Comoros, and Madagascar or the African coasts are the nearest sites with an equal abundance of this species.

Lake Dziani Karehani, Mayotte. Before the holding lake of Combani was filled in, Dziani Karehani was the only inland lake on Mayotte. This depression, filled with fresh water, is in a basin 2 km west of Combani. The surface of the lake only covers about 4 hectares but is smaller when the water level drops and the lake can become almost dry. The most spectacular plant is a kind of waterlily Nymphaea sp. with a blue flower. Efforts are being made to stop the lake from drying out. This seems to be necessary in order to guarantee the continuing presence of waterbirds. Species linked with a non-salt aquatic environment can be found, in particular Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis, Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides, Madagascar Pond Heron Ardeola idae, Madagascar Pratincole Glareola ocularis, Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus and Allen's Gallinule Porphyrio alleni. Other possibilities could be Madagascar Heron Ardea humbloti and Great White Egret Egretta alba. Red-headed Fody Foudia eminentissima is present in the Ylang-Ylang plantations between Dziani Karehani and the road.


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The term Mayotte (or Maore) refers to the group of islands, of which the largest is known as Maore (Grande-Terre), and it includes Maore's surrounding islands, most notably Pamanzi (Petite-Terre). Mayotte is in the Mozambique Channel, between Mozambique and Madagascar and is the nearest of the Comoros Islands to Madagascar. It is geographically part of the Comoros Islands but the people of Mayotte chose to remain politically a part of France in the 1975 referendum.

In a referendum in 2009, the population of Mayotte approved accession to status of department of France (95.2% voted in favour of departmental status). Mayotte became an overseas department on 31 March 2011 and became an Outermost region of the European Union on 1 January 2014.

Mayotte has a surface of 374 km2 rising to an altitude of 660 m; this island is now developing rapidly. The human population reached c212,645 in the 2012 census. Grande-Terre, geologically the oldest of the Comoros Islands, is 39 kilometres long and 22 kilometres wide, and its highest point is Mount Benara at 660 metres above sea level. Because of the volcanic rock, the soil is relatively rich in some areas. A coral reef encircling much of the island ensures protection for ships and a habitat for fish. 


More details can be found at Wikipedia.


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African Bird Club representative

The African Bird Club is seeking to appoint a representative in this region. If you are interested in supporting and promoting the Club, have any queries or require further information relating to the ABC representatives scheme, please contact the Membership Secretary at

Until a representative is appointed, please contact Michel Louette at for information about the Comoros.

Bird recorder and checklist compiler

Dr Michel Louette


Associations for the study and protection of fauna in Mayotte.

ARCHE has an objective to encourage the population to get involved in the protection of its environment and to respect both animal and plant life. It has set up an emergency centre for the care of world life as well as a convalescent centre; it organises guided field visits in agreement with the relevant services, stressing future skills linked to the environment and finally, to develop a series of educational activities on the theme of protecting nature.

Contact : Dr. Vét. L. Doméon, secrétaire, BP. 57 - 97605 Passamainty, Mayotte.

Naturalists, Historians and Geographers of Mayotte has an objective to put together people interested in flora, fauna, the natural environment, geology, geography, ethnography and the history of Mayotte. The association publishes a bulletin by means of which it would like to develop communication between interested parties.

Contact: Naturalistes de Mayotte, BP. 59 - 97640 Sada, Mayotte. Tél. (269) 62 29 48.



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Note that the following conservation issues were documented to cover the whole of the Comoros Islands but many of them will apply to Mayotte. 

Population growth has impacted habitat and species adversely and there are a significant number of threats. The environmental problems are similar to many other parts of Africa and it is worth documenting these in some detail (see references  - complete text in Louette et al 2004).

The surface area of the forest is liable to become insufficient to support the populations of certain animals

It is essential to save mangrove swamps and forest cover on the massifs, not only in order to avoid erosion and maintain water resources but also to guarantee ecological equilibrium and hence the survival of many species. By plotting the terrain from aerial photographs, forest fragmentation can be seen. At present, even on Grande Comore where the state of natural forest is better, the primary natural forest is localised over even smaller areas on the most inaccessible slopes of Karthala. The rapid degradation and deforestation directly threatens their inhabitants. As an example: big trees supply crevices for the nests of certain species of birds, but also for bats and insects which live in caves. On the other hand, zones which have been heavily influenced by man, such as area of coconut palms, contain a much more ordinary fauna. The dryness of the rivers at present is probably linked to the disappearance of the forest. This is of paramount importance for the well-being of certain local animals.

The quality of vegetation is regressing

Food-producing cultivation and exploitation of the forest hinders the regeneration of the native forest. The conservation of La Grille forest poses more serious problems as it is accessed easily by a tarred road. Near Boboli and Niombadjour on Grand Comore where sawmills were in use some years ago, the forest has almost entirely disappeared and has been replaced by agriculture and by invading plants. The result is a very ordinary vegetation which is uninteresting for fauna. There are other threats and pressures such as deliberate fires, particularly on the summit of Karthala. Campaigns about the dangers of bush fires in the localities at the edge of the forests have had only a limited success. Reforestation programmes are increasing the area of forest and can fulfil the need for timber and thus lessen the pressure of exploitation of natural forests, but they are inferior for the preservation of natural biodiversity. There is, moreover, not much reforestation in the Comoros

Lakes are deteriorating

If the preservation of forests is a priority, lakes are also important as there are few of them. A good example is Lake Dziani Boundouni on Mohéli which is very dry. The water level continues to drop noticeably and the quality is compromised. Unsustainable exploitation including overgrazing, land clearance especially on the slopes causing intense erosion, deforestation of the inflowing pools is putting pressure on the areas. These pressures can seriously harm the lake and in the same way, Lake Dziani Karehani at Mayotte is in danger of drying out (see Louette 1999). The Lakes of Anjouan (Dzialandze and Dzialatsounga) suffer from the same problems.

Exotic species are introduced

The introduction of new species can totally change the ecosystem of the island and it is probable that the loss of the majority of species dates from long ago when man arrived accompanied by domestic animals, rats, mice, insects, cockroaches and invasive plants such as golden alyssum. Even recent introductions made by man can be dangerous: mongoose, House Sparrow Passer domesticus, Common Myna Acridotheres tristis (nowadays the commonest bird in the archipelago), guppy or even the giant mollusc Achatina fulica. Globalisation and international transport genuinely increase the risks of a new wave of introductions.

The ecosystems of the Comoros, both by their diversity and their abundance, represent a unique natural heritage whose conservation is of paramount importance both now and for generations to come. The value of the faunal heritage of the Comoros is as important as the cultural inheritance and requires urgent attention. The interest in the fauna of the Comoros rests particularly in endemic animals linked with the original vegetation. The Comoros still possess well-preserved species which are of prime importance for the conservation of the environment and for science. The creation of nature reserves to protect the national heritage has become an absolute priority. In order to limit and then eliminate exploitation, these reserves will have to bring alternative sources of income to the human population living in the zone e.g. forest wardens and guides for the ecotourism circuits.

Note that at present, the UDC has only one designated National Park (Parc Marin de Mohéli); the Karthala forest park is still under debate. Mayotte has a series of Réserves Forestières (see map in Louette 1999). There are few areas that remain relatively undisturbed: upper levels of Mount Karthala; some islets near Mohéli such as M'Chaco.

Books & Sounds

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Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands covers Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, Rodrigues, Seychelles, The Comoros Islands and Mayotte.

You can purchase this and other books from WildSounds, one of the largest specialist UK mail-order companies, via our book and media sales page. Many bird watchers are not only interested in birds, so we have added the most useful books for other taxa on this page.

*** Wildsounds donates 5% of each order generated via these links to the ABC Conservation Fund. Please order here, get a good price and support ABC! ***

Book image: 
Book info: 
Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands, Ian Sinclair & Oliver Langrand, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

The first field guide to illustrate all the 359 regularly encountered species of Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion, Rodrigues, the Seychelles, the Comoros and Mayotte, many of them endemic to the area. Colour plates by leading bird artists; Norman Arlott, Hilary Burn, Peter Hayman and Ian Lewington. 359 distribution maps. 184 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Photographic Guide to Birds of the Indian Ocean Islands, Ian Sinclair, Oliver Langrand & Fanja Andriamialisoa, New Holland, Softback.
Book description: 

A selection of the most commonly encountered and striking bird species of Madagascar, the Seychelles, the Comoros, Mayotte and the Mascarenes. The species accounts cover the bird's appearance, basic behaviour, preferred habitats, and geographical distribution. Each species account enjoys a full page which features a colour photo, distribution map, and text in English and French. 128 pages.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Sound Guide to the Breeding Birds of the Comoros and Mayotte, Marc Herremans, CD.
Book description: 

Voices of 52 breeding species from the four main islands in the Comoros archipelago; Grande-Comore, Mohéli, Anjouan and Mayotte. Announced, briefly, in French. The booklet gives detailed data of all the recordings, both in French and English.

Book image: 
Book info: 
Bird Sounds of Madagascar, Mayotte, Comoros, Seychelles, Reunion, Mauritius, Pierre Huguet and Claude Chappuis, Société d'Études Ornithologiques de France, 4 CD set
Book description: 

Voices of 327 bird species. All recordings are extensively documented in the 115-page booklet (in French and English).

Book info: 
Atlas des oiseaux nicheurs de la Grande Comore, de Mohéli et d'Anjouan (note that Mayotte is not included) (+ CD Guide sonore des Oiseaux nicheurs des Comores, Marc Herremans, 2001. Répertoires complets) (Fr)
Book description: 


Publication date : 2008

Series : ZOOLOGICAL SCIENCES     Sub-series : ANNALS, series in -8°

Discipline : Zoology

Media : Printed     Volume : 294

ISBN : 978-9-0747-5237-4  

Reference : 240 pp., 83 fig., 45 col. phot., 11 tab., 22 draw.  

35,00 €

Book info: 
La faune terrestre de l'archipel des Comores (Fr)
Book description: 

Authors : LOUETTE M., MEIRTE D. & JOCQUÉ R.   

Publication date : 2004 (new edition 2009)

Series : ZOOLOGICAL SCIENCES     Sub-series : Studies in Afrotropical zoology (formerly Annals)

Discipline : Bibliography

Media : Printed     Volume : 293

ISBN : 90-75894-63-5    ISSN : 1780-1311  

Reference : 458 pp., 267 col. phot., 2 b/w phot., 14 map., 28 fig., 1 graf., 9 tab.   

59,00 €



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Mayotte is one of the four main islands of the Comoro archipelago. Ngazidja (Grande Comore), Mwali (Mohéli) and Ndzuani (Anjouan) became independent in 1975 and today form the Union des Comores Republic (UDC), whereas Maore remained under French administration as Collectivité territoriale de Mayotte (now Collectivité départementale). In a referendum in 2009, the population of Mayotte approved accession to status of department of France (95.2% voted in favour of departmental status). Mayotte became an overseas department on 31 March 2011 and became an Outermost region of the European Union on 1 January 2014.

This section of the website covers Mayotte and its birds for visiting tourists and birders. Some birders may wish to try and visit all of the main islands and from an ornithological perspective, it does makes sense to cover them together. The section Comoros should be visited if you are planning a trip to two or more of the main islands. 

Mayotte has four endemic species / subspecies: Mayotte Scops Owl Otus mayottensis; Mayotte Sunbird Cinnyris coquerellii; Chestnut-sided White-eye Zosterops mayottensis and Mayotte Drongo Dicrurus waldenii.

The forests are important for endemic bird conservation, and other sites such as fresh water lakes for visiting migratory birds, some on their way from Africa to Madagascar, such as Madagascar Squacco Heron Ardeola idae and sometimes for large numbers of Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis. Some migratory birds such as the Madagascar Heron Ardea humbloti and possibly Eleonora's Falcon Falco eleonorae are of world importance; other interesting species are Crab-plover Dromas ardeola from the Horn of Africa, but there are also good numbers of Palearctic waders at the coast and tropical terns, mostly far out at sea.

The purpose of this document is to provide a summary of Mayotte and its birds for birders interested in the country and potentially planning a visit. The information has been put together by Michel Louette. Readers are welcome to submit contributions to You should note that the names of birds used in this document are those of the African Bird Club checklist.


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