SABAP2 – 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.

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.

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