Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2

South Africa, eSwatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi

a member of the African Bird Atlas Project

Saving SABAP2

We are appealing for help to ensure the future of SABAP2! As one of Southern Africa’s most important biodiversity monitoring programs, The Southern African Bird Atlas Project 2 collects almost 2 million bird distribution records each year, providing the best real-time measure of the impact of ever accelerating global change on regional biodiversity. Are you able to assist?

Citizen scientists have carried the costs of data collection, but backbone funding is needed to maintain the information technology systems, which supports SABAP2 as well as BirdMap atlas projects throughout Africa and other bird monitoring projects like CWAC, CAR and SAFRING.

The South African National Biodiversity Institute has funded most of these IT costs, but the COVID-19 pandemic has seen their budget cut, and the funding allocated for 2020, 2021 and 2022 has been lost, putting the future of the project at risk.

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About the project

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.

Since 2007, more than 17 million records have been collected with about 2 million more being added each year. 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.

Atlasing 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.

Latest Resources

Pollination structures plant and nectar‐feeding bird communities in Cape fynbos, South Africa: Implications for the conservation of plant–bird mutualisms, Geerts, S., Coetzee, A., Rebelo, A.G. and Pauw, A., 2020

COVID-19 and citizen science: lessons learned from southern Africa, Rose, S., Suri, J., Brooks, M. and Ryan, P.G. , 2020

An analysis of the risk of collisions between aircraft and vultures in Namibia., Hauptfleisch, M., Knox, N.M., Heita, P., Aschenborn, O. and Mackenzie, M.L. , 2020


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