South Africa hosts some endemic birds in its grasslands. The grasslands provide food, shelter, and breeding grounds for these birds. Most of the birds in South Africa are threatened due to habitat loss and alteration leading to a steady decline in their populations. Human activities such as conversion of grasslands into farmlands, grazing domestic animals in the wild, urbanization, and mining pushing the species to marginal areas, therefore, are reducing their population. Efforts such as conservation of grasslands by governmental and non-governmental bodies have been made.
Threatened Endemic Birds Of South Africa
Southern Bald Ibis
The southern bald ibis is large endemic bird found in the open grassland or semi-desert in the in the mountains of South Africa restricted to the southern tip of South Africa. The bird has a bald red face and head, along down curved red bill and long wading legs. The bird lays 2-3 eggs which hatch after a 21-day incubation period. Breeding is colonial and occurs on rocks or cliffs. The bald ibis mainly feeds in roosts of up to 100 individuals feeding on insects, small reptiles, rodents and small birds. The bird is vulnerable due to continued conversion of the grasslands, hunting, and human disturbance. The bird has been designated for small breeding areas by private land owners.
Southern Black Korhaan
The black korhaan is a vulnerable non-migratory bird endemic to the Northern, Eastern, and Western Cape provinces from Little Namaqualand to Cape Town and east of Grahamstown. The bird has a height of 53cm and a weight of 700g. The head is colored brown with brown eyes and a red bill a white throat, yellow legs, and a brown-coloured back. The bird forages for food on the ground hunting for small reptiles like lizards, geckos, and bush snakes, insects. The bird builds its nest on the ground with figs, straw, and leaves. Its natural habitats are the savannah grasslands where it breeds and feeds. The bird is seen in pairs or singly in the wild sometimes forming small family groups or large flocks. The bird is threatened by rapid habitat destruction and fragmentation.
The Red Lark
The red lark is a vulnerable bird endemic South Africa with its populations mainly confined to the Northern Cape Province. The bird is mainly found in tropical and subtropical areas especially those with tussock grasses. The bird also occupies eroded dunes and dune ranges, alluvial plains, and clay pans with pebbles and feeds on invertebrates, seeds, and fruits. The bird has a length of about 19cm, a heavily streaked breast, a massive bill, a white eye strip and dark ear coverts. The major threat to this bird is habitat destruction with an estimated 75% of the habitat destroyed mainly due to overgrazing.
Rudd’s lark is an endemic South African bird which has been classified as vulnerable due to habitat loss in the high altitude grasslands of the country. The bird is a non-migratory species that displays monogamous breeding. The season of reproduction lasts from November to February. The lark feeds mainly on caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles and seeds, striding as it feeds. The bird is typically 14-15 cm long. The head is large with a buff strip on the crown and large dark eyes, long flesh colored legs and large rounded wings.
The lark is a threatened endemic species found in south Mpumalanga and Eastern Freestate in South Africa. The bird is restricted to the well-grazed upland grassland with black clay soils. It breeds in the short, dense and severely grazed natural grassland. The body of the lark is small with a flesh-pink bill, buffy underparts with a heavily streaked breast band and a white throat. The lark feeds on invertebrates and seeds.
Threats To The Endemic Birds Of South Africa
The endemic birds of South Africa including the yellow-breasted pipit and Knysna scrub warbler face a common threat to their population due to habitat loss caused by human disturbance as well specific environmental requirements by the birds thus they are limited to a narrow range.