African bird atlasses

Several bird atlasses have been published that include maps showing absence/presence in grids, allowing accurate distributions to be mapped. The map below shows the countries that have had at least one bird atlas published. Below the map there is a list of the atlas references.

Completed bird atlas projects in Africa

Of the 54 African countries, some 23 have had a completed bird atlas project (Mozambique however has 2/3 of its area done). The grid scales vary from 1’x1′ in the Comores to 1°x1°, although most are 15’x15′ or 30’x30′.


Table. A list of bird atlasses in Africa

Kemp 1974

Listed in sequence of publication (SA = South Africa).

Years – main temporal coverage for atlas.

Grid size given in geographic minutes.

The reference details are given below the table.


Country/ region
Years Grid size Reference
SA – central Transvaal (1953)-1968 ~7’x7′ Tarboton 1968a
SA – Kruger NP  -1974 points Kemp 1974a
SA – KwaZulu Natal 1970-1980 15’x15′ Cyrus 1980a
SA – Transvaal 1960-1986 15’x15′ Tarboton 1987b
SA – Free State 1983-1986 15’x15′ Earle 1987b
Sudan (incl S Sudan) 1976-1984 60’x60′ Nikolaus 1987a
SA – W Cape 1982-1986 15’x15′ Hockey 1989a
Kenya 1970-1984 30’x30′ Lewis 1989b (GBIF)
Lesotho 1986-1989 15’x15′ Osborne 1990a
Senegal & Gambia (1930)-1990 60’x60′ Morel 1990a
Somalia 1982-1988 30’x30′ Douthwaite 1991a
Botswana 1980-1990 30’x30′ Penry 1994a
Mali & Mauritania point Lamarche 1994a, 1993
Swaziland 1985-1991 7.5’x7.5′ Parker 1994a
Southern Africa 1987-1991 [-1993] 15’x15′ Harrison 1997a (SABAP1)
Liberia 1981-1994 15’x15′ Gatter 1997a
Somalia 1978-1981; 1978-1981 30’x30′ Ash 1998a
Mozambique, south 1980-1997 15’x15′ Parker 1999a
Uganda (1891)-1990s-(2004) 30’x30′, points Carswell 2005a
Mozambique, central 1992-2003 15’x15′ Parker 2005b
Malawi (1980)-2005 30’x30′ Dowsett-Lemaire 2006b
Zambia 1975-2007 30’x30′ Dowsett 2008a
Comores 1981-2006 1’x1′ Louette 2008a
Ethiopia & Eritrea (1850)-1969, 1970-2007 30’x30′ Ash 2009a
Mauritania [all years] 30’x30′ Isenmann 2010a + web
Ghana 2004-05, 2008-11 30’x30′ Dowsett-Lemaire 2014a
Benin & Togo [30’x30′] Dowsett-Lemaire 2019a
Tanzania 1985 – on-going 30’x30′ Species maps and list by grid
SABAP2 & Birdmap Africa 2007 – on-going 5’x5′ SABAP2
West Africa 2010 – on-going West African Bird DataBase


Benin & Togo, 2019

Ash 1983b. Birds of Somalia: their habitat, status and distribution. Scopus Supplement 1

Ash 1998a. Birds of Somalia. Pica Press, Sussex

Ash 2009a. Birds of Ethiopia and Eritrea. An atlas of distribution. Helm, London

Carswell 2005a. Bird atlas of Uganda. Tring: British Ornithological Union checklist.

Cyrus 1980a. Bird Atlas of Natal. University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg

Douthwaite 1991a. Additions to Birds of Somalia, their habitat, status and distribution (Ash & Miskell 1983). Scopus 14: 37-60

Dowsett-Lemaire F, Dowsett RJ 2014 The Birds of Ghana: An Atlas and Handbook. Tauraco Press

Dowsett-Lemaire F, Dowsett RJ 2019 The Birds of Benin and Togo An Atlas and Handbook. Tauraco Press

Dowsett 2008a. The Birds of Zambia. An Atlas and Handbook. Tauraco Press & Aves (Liège, Belgium)

Earle 1987b. First atlas of bird distribution in the Orange Free State. National Museum, Bloemfontein

Gatter 1997a. Birds of Liberia. Pica Press, Sussex

Harrison 1997a. The atlas of southern African birds. Vol. 2: Passerines. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg

Hockey 1989a. Atlas of the birds of the south-western Cape. Cape Bird Club, Cape Town

Isenmann 2010a. Birds of Mauritania. Paris.

Jensen 1980b. The birds of the Gambia. Arhus, Denmark: Aros Nature Guides

Kemp 1974a. The distribution and status of the birds of the Kruger National Park. Koedoe monograph 2

Kemp 1985a. A catalogue of the birds of the Transvaal. Pretoria: Transvaal Museum/Transvaal Nature Conservation Division.
Cyclostyled manuscript.

Lamarche 1994a. Atlas de Répartition des Oiseaux du Mali et de Mauritanie. Nouakchott: Association des Naturalistes Sahariens et Quest-Africaines Vol 1-8

Lewis 1989b. A bird atlas of Kenya. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam

Louette 2008a. Atlas des oiseaux nicheurs de la Grande Comore, de Moheli et d’Anjouan. Musée royal de l’Afrique centrale (Studies in Afrotropical Zoology) 294

Morel 1990a. Les oiseaux de Sénégambie. Notices et cartes de distribution. Cah. O.R.S.T.O.M., sér. Biol., Paris

Nikolaus 1987a. Distribution atlas of Sudan’s birds with notes on habitat and status. Bonner Zoologische Monogr. 25

Osborne 1990a. The status and distribution of birds in Lesotho. Unpub., Nature Conserv. Bureau Ltd, Newbury, Berkshire.

Parker 1994a. Swaziland bird atlas 1985-1991. Websters, Mbabane, Swaziland

Parker 1999a. The atlas of the birds of Sul do Save, Southern Mozambique. Avian Demography Unit, Cape Town and Endangered
Wildlife Trust, Johannesburg

Penry 1994a. Bird atlas of Botswana. University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg

Tarboton 1968a. Check list of the birds of the south-central Transvaal. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand Bird Club

Tarboton 1987b. Birds of the Transvaal. Pretoria: Transvaal Museum.

Dieter is a qualified Bird Ringer and trainer, registered bird guide, and Weaver expert. Dieter is able to act as a bird guide for day trips in Cape Town, and is able to customise birds tours in South Africa and beyond.