Afrotis afra


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Afrotis afra
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1766)
Common Name(s):
English Southern Black Bustard
Eupodotis afra (Linnaeus, 1766)
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.
2012 Least Concern

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).
South Africa
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).
Population Trend: Decreasing

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

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).

Bibliography [top]

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.

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., and Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Liège, Belgium.

Hockey, P.A.R., Dean, W.R.J. and Ryan, P.G. 2005. Roberts birds of southern Africa. Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa.

Hofmeyr, S. 2012. Impacts of environmental change on large terrestrial bird species in South Africa: insights from citizen science data. PhD thesis. University of Cape Town.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.2). Available at: (Accessed: 13 November 2013).

Shaw, J. M. 2013. Power line collisions in the Karoo: Conserving Ludwig’s Bustard. PhD thesis. University of Cape Town.

Sibley, C.G. and Monroe, B.L. 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Sibley, C.G. and Monroe, B.L. 1993. A supplement to 'Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World'. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Citation: BirdLife International 2013. Afrotis afra. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 03 September 2015.
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