Working for birds in Africa

Important Bird Areas

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 15:20 -- abc_admin

Male and female Blue Koorhan Eupodotis caerulescens

Wakkerstroom, South Africa

Image Credit: 
John Caddick, November 2012

Most of the endemic and characteristic species of South Africa are, not surprisingly, confined to the country’s unique biomes: grassland, fynbos and Karoo. Five Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) occur wholly or partly in South Africa, a number equalled in Africa only by Madagascar, and which support 25 restricted-range species. The EBAs by name are as follows: Cape fynbos; South African forests; Lesotho highlands; Southern African grasslands; South-East African coast; and Karoo secondary area.

South Africa overlaps with six major African biomes: Afrotropical Highlands with 23 of its 228 restricted range species; East African coast with 12 of 38 species; Zambezian with nine of 67 species; Kalahari-Highveld with six of 13 species; Namib-Karoo with 19 of 23 species and finally, Fynbos biome with all nine of its restricted range species occurring in South Africa.

In addition to its remarkable diversity of terrestrial habitat and species, South Africa has a varied coastline with 17 offshore rocky islands extending from Bird Island in Lambert’s Bay to the Algoa Bay Islands which provide platforms for breeding seabird colonies. The majority of the global populations of six seabird species breed on offshore islands: African Penguin Spheniscus demersus; Cape Gannet Sula capensis; Cape Cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis; Bank Cormorant P. neglectus; Crowned Cormorant P. coronatus; Hartlaub’s Gull Larus hartlaubii.

In addition, the South African owned subantarctic Prince Edward Islands support some 2.5 million breeding seabirds and could support up to 8 million birds in total including important concentrations of several penguin, albatross and petrel species.

There are a remarkable 101 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in South Africa covering approximately 101,154 km2 designated by BirdLife International. For further details of these, download the country IBAs from BirdLife International. 


BirdLife South Africa published a revised IBA Directory in 2015. See

For an electronic version of the document and online directory: See

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