Ludwig’s Bustard ENDANGERED

Ludwig’s Bustard Neotis ludwigii is a large, terrestrial bird (76-97cm; 2.2-6kg) that occupies the arid west of southern Africa. They are near endemic to southern Africa with a distribution extending from the west of South Africa into western Namibia and scattered records from south-western Angola.

The 1980s population was estimated at 81 000 individuals by Allen (1994), however, after major declines the current estimate sits at <10 000 individuals. Owing to their large body-size and slow reproductive rates, this species is vulnerable to rapid population declines as has been observed over the past few decades. The majority of their daily activity is spent walking through the Karoo scrub and arid landscapes searching for small reptiles, mammals and insects to feed on.

Drs Hanneline Smit-Robinson and Melissa Whitecross sit on the Eskom Ludwig’s Bustard Working Group (LBWG). They are assisted by Robin Colyn in assessing the necessary ecological and habitat requirements for this wide ranging arid specialist. The major threat to this bird besides hunting is collisions with powerlines and telecommunication infrastructure. The LBWG are working to assess how these threats can be addressed to mitigate the impacts they are having on the declining population.

Reference: Allan, D.G. 1994. The abundance and movements of Ludwig’s Bustard Neotis ludwigii. Ostrich, 65: 95-105.