Welcome to the Southern African Bird Atlas Project! SABAP2 is a citizen science project that is driven by the energy of several hundred volunteers who are mapping the distribution of birds across several southern African countries. SABAP2 is the follow-up project to the Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP1), which took place from 1987-1991. The second bird atlas project started on 1 July 2007 and is still growing. The project aims to map the distribution and relative abundance of birds in southern Africa and includes: South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, eSwatini, Zimbabwe, Zambia. To gather data, volunteers select a geographical ‘pentad’ on a map and record all the bird species seen within a set time frame, in order of species seen. This information is uploaded to the SABAP2 database and is used for research and analysis by several different agencies, including the South African National Biodiversity Institute, BirdLife South Africa, as well as academics and students at various universities.
As of July 2019, SABAP2 volunteers have collected more than 17 million records across all protocols! This valuable dataset is key to determining the conservation status of bird species, correctly assigning red-list status and establishing Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, as well as forming the basis for informing environmental impact assessments. To gather valuable and useful data atlas coverage needs to be as thorough as possible. Ideally, each pentad should have a baseline of at least four comprehensive checklists (‘cards’), over several years and seasons. On the coverage maps this will mean a pentad turns ‘green’. Coverage intensity is scaled from yellow to dark purple, making it easy to identify which regions need more checklists. Some citizen scientists, Johan van Rooyen and his team for example, has taken the initiative to monitor an entire region to ensure that coverage is thorough and constant. Read more about their amazing work in the Hessequa region here.
Atlasing also is fun, and gives your birding a purpose. If you are keen to get involved, click on the ‘How to Participate’ tab or get in touch via our Facebook Group or Page and we’ll help you get started!
SABAP2 is based at the University of Cape Town and is funded by the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology and the South African National Biodiversity Institute. The project is actively supported by BirdLife South Africa and BirdLasser.