ARDB update: May 2014

  • Database reaches 62,398 records
  • 837 records received this month
  • Project logo developed
  • 10th Annual Conference of the Birds of Prey Programme, Etosha National Park, Namibia
  • African Harrier-hawk

May has been exceptionally busy for the ARDB!  We’ve not only been processing more data but have also developed a project logo and presented at the 10th Annual Conference of the Birds of Prey Programme, Etosha National Park, Namibia – read on for more!

We’ve received an additional 837 records bringing the total in the database to 62,398!  Thanks are due to Clive Barlow (159; The Gambia), Thierry Helsens (202; Mali), Simon Delany (128; The Gambia), Andre Botha (166; South Africa) Rob Davies (122, Namibia) and Bernard Madden (60, Namibia/South Africa).

We’ve worked with artist Paul MacDermot to develop the splash screen for the app and the project logo; we hope you like it!  The original photograph of the Bateleur Eagle was taken by Stu Porter of Wild 4 Photographic Safaris who has kindly allowed us to use it.  We’ve worked to try and portray raptors as a safeguarding mechanism for Africa with the Bateleur looking down across the continent.

Rob attended the 10th Bird of Prey Programme (EWT) Annual Conference held at Eldorado near Etosha National Park in Namibia during May and launched the mobile app for the ARDB to the southern African audience thanks to a lot of very hard work by our developer Andrew Rayner.

habitat OBS - African Raptor Observations

habitat OBS – African Raptor Observations

The first day was a workshop organised around the plight of African vultures and the widespread and acute problem of poisoning.  The workshop was capably mediated by José Tavares of the Vulture Conservation Foundation in Europe.  There were lots of exciting outcomes from this workshop that Andre and team will broadcast in due course but one of these was that the ARDB and the mobile app should function to capture and host reports of vulture mortalities through poisoning.  The structure of the database will be developed further to accommodate the protocol for poisoning investigations.

Several delegates installed the mobile app on their android phones and we are now receiving their data.  We had a field excursion on day 2 with nice sightings of Redneck Falcons chasing an African Harrier-hawk (or Gymnogene!) and several vultures.  For four days after the conference Rob was able to rigorously field test the app and the map shows all the sightings and survey routes that he recorded.  The app works well and only used 30% of phone battery power on a full day out in the field.  So in light of the bad news we heard about vultures during the conference it was great to observe 150 Whitebacked Vultures and 9 Lappet-faced Vultures come down to a carcase on the Andoni Plain (top right in the map).

Mobile app field trial - Etosha NP - 21st-28th May 2014

Mobile app field trial – Etosha NP – 21st-28th May 2014

The app is now available for download through Google Play but still in beta mode while we make sure the server is able to handle all the survey waypoints that are coming in.  Please email Tim ( to be added to the beta team and for instructions on how to set up.

Rob also met with Drs Chris Brown, John Mendelsohn, Alice Jarvis and Tony Robertson in Windhoek at the EIS office to discuss the proposed data exchange agreement between the ARDB and the Namibian Avifauna Database which houses a substantial number of records for Namibian raptors.  Holger Kolberg has kindly offered the valuable Namibian raptor data he holds to the ARDB.  We will post more on Namibian data soon.

Neil Baker noted the ubiquitous distribution of African Harrier-hawk or Gymnogene across Tanzania (we are using African Harrier-hawk as the English name for this species in the ARDB to match most text books and Birdlife’s World Birds Database but we also prefer ‘Gymnogene’!).  Clive Barlow asked if the distribution is ubiquitous Africa-wide and the attached graphic showing the 1184 records this species in the ARDB (particularly historic records in grey) demonstrates their occurrence across the majority of sub-Saharan habitats.

Records of African Harrier-hawks in the ARDB

Records of African Harrier-hawks in the ARDB

Keep sending your records in and, if possible, via an Android smart-phone (iPhones next!)..

Best wishes,

Rob, Tim and the ARDB team