endemic birding

When one refers to the term an endemic species, it means a species that is restricted to a certain region and that can be found nowhere else in the world. Southern Africa is fortunate to have a high level of endemism in all forms of life and in fact South Africa, as a country, is considered by some to be the third most biologically diverse country in the world.

The Southern African subregion, which is taken to be the portion of land south of the Cunene and Zambezi Rivers hosts more breeding bird species than the United States of America and Canada combined.

Adult male Cape Weaver: Copyright: Trevor Hardaker

Of the just over 950 bird species recorded in the subregion, 177 are endemics or near-endemics ie. species only marginally shared with neighbouring countries. In other words, almost 20% of Southern Africa's birds can be found nowhere else in the world!

This high level of endemism is due to the huge and diverse range of habitats present in the region as well as the climate which ranges from the cool winter rainfall areas of the south west to the hot summer rainfall subtropical areas of the north and east.

.....Click here to download a comprehensive list of all
Southern Africa's endemic and near-endemic species.

(8kB zipped MS Excel file)
Cape Town and Table Mountain © Trevor Hardaker

Cape Town, on the south western corner of Africa, is situated far from the species rich areas of Southern Africa, and consequently doesn't boast a vast bird list. It more than makes up for this, however, in the quality of the birding opportunities within easy reach of the city. 57 of the Southern Africa's endemic species and 32 of the near endemic species are available on day trips from Cape Town, and most of these can be found reasonably easily with appropriate local knowledge. This amounts to a staggering 89 species, far greater than the endemic bird totals of most countries.


While chasing some of these target species requires an early start and two or more hours drive from the city, a few days spent accumulating these endemic birds take one into a wide variety of spectacular habitats ranging from sparse semi-desert through coastal strandveld and mountain fynbos to damp montane forests. Accompanying this travelling and scenic splendour, of course, is brilliant birding and some truly splendid species, and at the end of it all, a large proportion of the region's endemic species.

.....Click here to download a list of all
endemic and near-endemic species occurring
within a day's drive of Cape Town.

(5kB zipped MS Excel file)

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