Sub-Saharan Africa Has Richest Bird Life

Article excerpt

BYLINE: Matthew Hirsch Cadet News Agency

Dust off those binoculars because a study has found that sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest bird diversity in the world.

This if all the levels of classification were looked at - not just species, the study said.

It also found that sub-Saharan Africa had toppled South America, which was previously thought to be the most bird-rich area.

These findings by Stellenbosch University scientists were published in the latest edition of the South African Journal of Science.

Bird specialist Dr Chris Lotz said the study proved that Africa was the ideal place for bird watching enthusiasts.

"In terms of higher taxonomy, sub-Saharan Africa is arguably the richest part of the planet for birds," he said. He said this was because of the diverse habitats across the regions and because some of the birds originally developed in Africa.

Lotz said they compared different regions of the world.

"We took eight areas in Africa that are similar in size and compared them with 16 similar regions spread across the world. For each region we downloaded bird lists from the world bird database Avibase, and then counted the number of species, genera, families and orders for each region."

The Birdlife International Avibase offers information about all birds in the world, with over 9 million records, including 10 000 species and 22 000 subspecies.

South American countries like Colombia and Peru had a higher number of species, with 1 816 and 1 752 species respectively but these were distributed in a surprisingly small number of families (85 and 87 respectively). …