Anhinga rufa


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Anhinga rufa
Species Authority: (Daudin, 1802)
Common Name(s):
English African Darter, Darter
French Anhinga d'Afrique
Taxonomic Notes: Anhinga melanogaster, A. novaehollandiae (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) and A. rufa (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993, Dowsett and Forbes-Watson 1993), species occurring in Asia, Australasia and Africa, are retained as separate species contra Christidis and Boles (1994), Turbott (1990), Cramp and Simmons (1977-1994), Vol. I and AERC TAC (2003), who all include rufa and novaehollandiae as subspecies of A. melanogaster.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Angola (Angola); Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Kenya; Lesotho; Liberia; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Regionally extinct:
Israel; Jordan; Syrian Arab Republic; Turkey
Comoros; Egypt; Yemen
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour This species is mainly sedentary (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005) but is subject to little known opportunistic local movements related to drought and wetland conditions (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005). The timing of breeding is seasonal in some areas, but can be at any time of the year (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species usually breeds in mixed-species colonies (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005), and roosts nightly in groups of 10 to 50 (Hockey et al. 2005) (sometimes up to 100) in trees, bushes or reedbeds often in mixed-species groups (Brown et al. 1982), although it is generally a solitary feeder (Brown et al. 1982, Johnsgard 1993). Its moulting habits are little known, but some adults may go through a flightless moult period after breeding (Hockey et al. 2005). Habitat The species shows a preference for still, shallow, inland freshwater and alkaline lakes and slow-flowing rivers fringed with reeds and trees (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Johnsgard 1993). It may also occur in swamps (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Johnsgard 1993), reservoirs (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Johnsgard 1993, Hockey et al. 2005), river oxbows (Johnsgard 1993) and forested streams (Brown et al. 1982), typically avoiding marine habitats (Hockey et al. 2005) but occasionally foraging inmangrove swamps (del Hoyo et al. 1992), estuaries (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Johnsgard 1993, Hockey et al. 2005), shallow tidal inlets (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992) and coastal lagoons (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005). It generally avoids fast-flowing rivers, areas with dense floating vegetation (Hockey et al. 2005), and narrow, steep-banked or seasonally drained habitats (Johnsgard 1993), preferring to feed in water 1-3 m deep (up to 6 m [Hockey et al. 2005]) with forested margins or scattered emergent trees and islets with dense vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species requires trees, bushes or reedbeds for roosting (Brown et al. 1982), and prefers dead trees, rocks or banks to rest on after feeding (Hockey et al. 2005). Diet Its diet consists mainly of fish such as Cichlidae and Cyprinidae (del Hoyo et al. 1992), although it will also take amphibians, water snakes, terrapins, aquatic insects, crustaceans and molluscs (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The species nests in mixed-species colonies (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992), each pair building a nest platform of sticks and other vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1992) in forks of trees or in reedbeds 1-6 m high (Brown et al. 1982) (often c.2 m [del Hoyo et al. 1992]) over water or on islands (Hockey et al. 2005).

Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is persecuted in some areas of southern Africa because of its perceived (actually minimal) impact on trout and other recreational fish species (Hockey et al. 2005). In Burundi it is threatened by disturbance, exploitation at colonies (Hockey et al. 2005), destruction of habitats and environmental pollution (Ntahuga 2000).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Anhinga rufa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 27 March 2015.
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