Afrotis afra 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Otidiformes Otididae

Scientific Name: Afrotis afra
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1766)
Common Name(s):
English Southern Black Bustard
Eupodotis afra (Linnaeus, 1766)
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.
Taxonomic Notes: Afrotis afra (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Eupodotis.

(Eupodotis) afra and E. afraoides (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) are retained as separate species contra Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993) who included afraoides as a subspecies of E. afra.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A4bc ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Shaw, J., Hofmeyr, S. & Young, D.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J. & Symes, A.
This small bustard has been uplisted from Least Concern to Vulnerable as it is suspected to be undergoing rapid population declines owing to the loss and fragmentation of its habitat to agricultural conversion.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2012 Least Concern (LC)
2009 Least Concern (LC)
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2004 Least Concern (LC)
2000 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1994 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1988 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is endemic to southwestern South Africa, where it occurs in Northern Cape, Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces from Little Namaqualand south to Cape Town and then east to Grahamstown. It was historically very common but appears to have become scarcer and its distribution more fragmented (Hofmeyr 2012).
Countries occurrence:
South Africa
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 173000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population size has not been quantified, but the species has been described as 'uncommon to common' (Hockey et al. 2005).

Trend Justification:  Comparison of data from the first and second Southern African Bird Atlas Projects (SABAP1, 1987–1992 and SABAP2, 2007–) indicates that the species declined in abundance in c.80% of its range between 1992 and 2010, and by over 30% during the study period, although the decline may have decelerated from 2008 onwards (Hofmeyr 2012). Occupancy modelling using the same data confirmed this, showing declines in abundance and range across most of its range. Comparison of results from an extensive terrestrial road census in the Karoo with those from a similar study in the 1980s also found a marked population decline (Shaw 2013), and data from the Coordinated Avifaunal Roadcounts project also indicate declines between 1997 and 2010 in Overberg and Swartland (S. Hofmeyr and D. Young in litt. 2013). Subsequent analysis of the SABAP data to April 2013 indicates the situation may be more serious, with slight declines in the Eastern Cape population and declines in the Northern Cape and especially the Western Cape appearing to be more significant than previously suspected (S. Hofmeyr in litt. 2013). On-going population declines within the range 30-49% in 31 years (three generations) are suspected based on these analyses.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: Unknown Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The species is restricted to the non-grassy, winter rainfall or mixed winter-summer rainfall Fynbos and Succulent Karoo biomes, and the extreme south of the Nama-Karoo biome, in a narrow strip along the southern and western coastlines of South Africa (Hofmeyr 2012). It also occurs in semi-arid scrub and dunes with succulent vegetation, and extends into renosterveld scrub and semi-arid karoo (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). It occurs occasionally in cultivated fields with nearby cover (Hockey et al. 2005). The diet consists of insects, small reptiles and plant material, including seeds and green shoots (Hockey et al. 2005).
Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 10.3
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Conversion of natural vegetation to agriculture is likely to be the primary threat. In Overberg and Swartland, where the species has declined, the intensity of agricultural cultivation has increased in recent years (D. Young in litt. 2013). Coordinated Avifaunal Roadcounts project data show that, whilst the species can use farmland where little else is available (especially in the Overberg, where c.80% of land is transformed), in general they prefer natural veld (Hofmeyr 2012). Patches of indigenous vegetation have probably not only decreased in size but also become more isolated (D. Young in litt. 2013). Increasing agricultural activity is likely to not only cause a decrease in suitable breeding territories, but also decreased breeding success as a result of increased disturbance related to farming activities and increased chick and egg predation because of a general decrease in cover and an increase in predators such as Pied Crows (Hofmeyr 2012). It is also possible that adults have suffered increased predation rates and even increased starvation because of the decline in cover and suitable habitat (Hofmeyr 2012). Climate change may aggravate the threat of habitat loss (Hofmeyr 2012).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation and research actions underway
CITES Appendix II.

Conservation and research actions needed
Conduct more detailed studies with the aim of improving our understanding of the status of the population, the causes of its decline, and any possible mitigation measures that may be taken (Hofmeyr 2012).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2013. Afrotis afra. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T22691975A49198919. . Downloaded on 26 November 2015.
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