AFRING – Bird ringing in Africa

AFRING is the concept of coordinating all bird ringing (banding) activities in Africa.

Comb Duck – lines connect ringing and recovery points, and do not show actual route taken


The concept of AFRING was first proposed in 1969, at a meeting of bird ringers during the Third Pan-African Ornithological Congress in Kruger National Park. The meeting recognized the need to establish close co-operation between ringing schemes in Africa, and between African and European schemes, and concluded that to achieve this, it was necessary to develop a code for recoveries, and to compose a numbered checklist for African species. It was agreed that another meeting should be organized within six months to develop the code for recoveries. Accordingly, an AFRING meeting was held at the 15th International Ornithological Congress in The Hague, The Netherlands, in 1970. Countries represented at this meeting included Angola, Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Two aims were established, namely to standardize recovery data, and to put all African recovery records on standard forms. Ornithologists from South Africa played a leading role, but due to the political climate, these ornithologists could no longer easily be involved in African meetings.

The concept of AFRING was thus not realized for nearly three more decades, although Prof. Les Underhill (at the Avian Demography Unit in the University of Cape Town) at various times applied for funding for AFRING, and made the following suggestions:
• Standardize codes and methods;
• Facilitate bird ringing through training, the provision of rings and the establishment of a database;
• Provide leadership in all aspects of bird-marking in Africa;
• Promote collaborative projects (country/continent/flyway);
• Provide a secure backup for data;
• Curate primary data of defunct schemes; and
• Analyse data, especially with respect to conservation and management issues.

The Second International Conference on Wetlands and Development, held in Dakar, Senegal, in November 1998, recommended that the development of an intra-African ringing co-ordination scheme (AFRING) be accorded a very high priority. This opened the way for Wetlands International to apply for funding and establish the co-ordination of waterbird ringing schemes in Africa.

A short paragraph about AFRING was included in the introduction of the “Review of ring recoveries of waterbirds in southern Africa” (p6).

The Avian Demography Unit received the tender for this project in January 2004. Doug Harebottle (Avian Demography Unit) was appointed to co-ordinate the project. A stakeholders’ meeting was held at the Waterbirds around the world Conference in Edinburgh in April 2004, and a follow-up meeting was planned for the Eleventh Pan-African Ornithological Congress in Tunisia in November 2004.

Since then the idea has continued to be discussed at PAOC meetings.

YouTube talk about AFRING

On 28 July 2023 I gave a talk about AFRING for Friday4Birds. View the talk below. The outline of the talk is as follows:

  • History of Afring [1969-now]
  • African ringing schemes [long term schemes – SAFRING and East Africa]
  • The SAFRING database
  • Ringing training [see Events]
  • Ringing resources [see Resources]
  • AFRING – some thoughts

Random links to bird ringing in Africa

Yellow-crested Helmetshrike in DRC – “lost birds