The Southern Bald Ibis is endemic to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. It primarily occurs across high altitude grasslands, but is also recorded across lower altitudes in eastern South Africa.

This species is a colonial breeder, nesting gregariously on cliff ledges and in potholes on both natural and artificial cliff structures (mountains, quarries, etc.). Currently listed as globally Vulnerable, this species is suspected to have undergone a decline in breeding adults of ca. 11% over the past 30 years. Threats facing this species include habitat loss, illegal harvesting of eggs and expansion of woody vegetation.

Based on the recommended high priority actions in the Southern Bald Ibis Species Action Plan (SAP) (Colyn 2016), a national survey of breeding sites and success at these sites are currently underway. The objectives of the project is:

  1. To assess the current status of Southern Bald Ibis breeding colonies across South Africa and Lesotho;
  2. Identify potential unknown/under-surveyed breeding sites;
  3. Monitor changes in colony size and breeding success over time.
  4. Determine what proportion of breeding colonies and available habitat fall under formal protection and within Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs);
  5. Establish good relations with willing individuals/bird clubs assisting with the monitoring of the breeding sites; and
  6. Examine spatial movement of fledged individuals over their range through satellite tracking.

Download the Species Action Plan for the Southern Bald Ibis below:

Download the burning and grazing guidelines below:

Found a breeding colony?

BirdLife South Africa relies on citizen scientists to provide us with information on the locations of breeding Southern Bald Ibis around the country. If you know of a colony and would be interested in assisting with nest monitoring work please email carina.coetzer@birdlife.org.za

Due to the extent of their distribution, BirdLife South Africa needs the help of citizen scientists willing to report and/or monitor any roosting or breeding colonies of Southern Bald Ibis. Several individuals and bird clubs have already very generously offered their assistance, and areas with established monitors include Wakkerstroom, Bethlehem, and the Van Reenen-Verkykerskop region. More liaison is currently in progress with Dullstroom, Middelburg, the KZN midlands region, Lesotho, Zululand and northern parts of the Eastern Cape (Barkley East-Mthatha).

Monitoring entails at least one visit (more if possible) to the known colonies you are willing to monitor, and then filling in a one-page monitoring sheet which can be obtained from Carina Coetzer (carina.coetzer@birdlife.org.za). Once this has been completed it can be returned to Carina to be added to the database.

If you are aware of any current or historical colonies in your region, or are willing to assist in the monitoring of these colonies, please contact Carina Coetzer (carina.coetzer@birdlife.org.za).