Working for birds in Africa

Raptor Watch. A global directory of Raptor Migration Sites

Fri, 12/21/2012 - 23:58 -- abc_admin
Compiled and edited by Jorge I. Zalles and Keith L. Bildstein. 2000. 419 pp, several maps, tables and black-and-white photographs. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK & Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Pennsylvania. Distributed by Natural History Book Service Ltd., 2-3 Wills Road, Totnes, Devon TQ9 5XN, UK. E-mail: nhbs@nhbs.co.uk. UK£37.00 plus postage and packing.
page 69

The latest addition (number 9) to the BirdLife Conservation Series has been co-produced in association with Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. For raptor enthusiasts this able attempt to summarise what is known of the migration patterns and habits of diurnal birds of prey must be considered essential reading. African bird buffs may consider this a less than key purchase, as only 43 of the book's pages are devoted to the continent, but they really should not. Raptor migration studies in Africa have advanced very little since the publication of Leslie Brown's book on the continent's birds of prey appeared in 1971. Much of our information is based on casual and unsystematic observations. Alongside the other regional introductions, to Asia, the Middle East, Australia, and the Pacific Islands; Europe; South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico; and North America, African ' raptor biogeography, migration and threats and conservation are discussed within an eight-page overview. Thereafter information on a country-by-country basis is supplied (this includes many interesting general data for each country on, eg land-use, per capita GNP, human population and growth, general biogeography etc), with full details being presented for all identified watch sites. Among the 43 countries of Africa, watch sites have been identified for 13: Algeria (one), Djibouti (one), Egypt (two), Ethiopia (one), Kenya (three), Libya (one), Mali (two), Rwanda (one), Tanzania (two), Tunisia (one), Uganda (two), Zambia (two) and Zimbabwe (two). There is an extreme paucity of data for many countries. The information presented for those regions of the world with which I am more familiar appears largely up-to-date and correct and, given the large number of regional correspondents consulted, I have no hesitation in recommending this review of the state of global raptor migration studies to those with an interest in the subject. Occasional missed sources and misspelt names must be considered inevitable in a work of this breadth. One only hopes that it spurs observers within Africa (and in other comparatively poorly watched regions) to target field work toward the identification of additional watch sites and the closer monitoring of those sites presented here. In the interim, this work will prove a key reference.

Guy M. Kirwa

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