320 pages, colour photos, colour distribution maps1 customer review
Birds to Watch in Namibia is Namibia’s Red Data Book on birds. Seventy one of the 687 bird species recorded in Namibia to date have been found to be either Threatened (48 species) or Near-threatened (23 species), according to IUCN criteria. About 75% of Namibia’s Red Data birds fall into one or more of the following four categories, and each category has a few common reasons why these species are declining:
- Wetland birds – wetland encroachment and degradation, loss of riparian forest and woodland, reduction in water quality and quality, and disturbance;
- Seabirds – shortage of food through over-fishing, birds caught on long-line baited hooks, and birds colliding with, and being pulled under by, trawler net cables;
- Scavenging birds – collateral poisoning on farmlands by baits set to kill mammalian predators and deliberate poisoning by commercial poachers;
- Large typically wetland and ground dwelling birds - vulnerable to collision with power transmission lines.
By addressing these root causes, the conservation status of these groups of birds can be significantly improved. This book sets out the threats and priority actions needed to address the threats for each of the 71 Red Data species in chapter 2.
There are 16 endemic and near-endemic bird species in Namibia. Namibia has a special responsibility for their long-term conservation (Amber species). Three of these are Red Data species while the other 13 are not considered to be of conservation concern and are covered in Chapter 3.
Chapter 4 deals with 108 species that are not threatened according to IUCN Red Data criteria, but occur in small numbers, most on Namibia’s northern or southern borders, and should be monitored as they are key indicators of the health of their respective habitats and ecosystems.
This is an exceptional piece of work and it is quite remarkable that it is to be found in one of Africa's least populated countries. Other, bigger countries should be envious. It is written by experts and is a significant contribution to the understanding of bird populations, movements and behaviour in this fascinating country. But it is also entirely appropriate for the amateur birder and provides invaluable up-to-date and detailed information that goes well beyond the usual (numerous and very good) field guides to southern Africa. For each species there are first class maps, readable and informative texts, and excellent photos. It's not small and is a book to leave on the shelf and refer to after coming home from a day in the field and I refer to my copy often. The quality of the printing, binding, and so on is excellent. All in all, it's a very impressive book and should be considered a model of its kind.
As Namibia’s state ornithologist (1990–2003) Rob Simmons focussed on Namibia’s endemic birds, flamingos, wetland and coastal birds. He also headed the Wetlands Working Group and Mountain Ecosystem Group before moving to UCT in 2003. His long-term harrier research resulted in Harriers of the World, published in 2000. He currently tracks Black Harrier migrations, studies climate change effects on vulture foraging and initiated Africa’s first study of the impact of domestic cats on faunal diversity in 2010. Studying as far afield as Sweden and Papua New Guinea, he’s published more than 100 papers, contributed to nine books, and written 70 popular articles. He mixes environmental consultancy work on renewable energy with student supervision and research in Cape Town with his partner and daughters.
Christopher J Brown did his doctoral thesis on the Bearded Vulture in the Drakensberg and Lesotho highlands. In 1983 he took the post of Ornithologist in the then Department of Nature Conservation. In 1992 he was the first Head of the Directorate of Environmental Affairs in the Ministry of Environment & Tourism. He led the development and implementation of many national environmental policies and programmes including Namibia’s first bird atlas project, Namibia’s Green Plan, Namibia’s community-based natural resource management programme, Namibia’s programme to combat desertification and Namibia’s national biodiversity programme. In 1998 he became the Executive Director of the Namibia Nature Foundation, retiring from this position in 2012. He was the editor of the journal Madoqua for 10 years and has published over 100 papers.
Jessica Kemper grew up on five continents and ended up in Namibia in 1999, initially for a few weeks to monitor seabirds on far-flung Mercury Island. This memorable experience ultimately resulted in her doctoral thesis on the demography of African Penguins in Namibia. Her research and engagement have been instrumental during the process of proclaiming Namibia’s first marine protected area and she continues to be passionately involved in the conservation of Namibia’s coastal birds. When she is not counting seabirds, washing oiled penguins or editing manuscripts, she can be found exploring the Lüderitz Peninsula with her dogs, photographically recording its fascinating flora and fauna.