Oxpeckers in Namibia: A review of their status and distribution in 2017
Keywords:oxpecker, Buphagus erythrorhynchus, Buphagus africanus, population status, distribution, host species, Namibia
Red-billed Oxpecker, Buphagus erythrorhynchus, and Yellow-billed Oxpecker, B. africanus, occur in Namibia with populations restricted to the extreme north-eastern parts (both species) and north-western parts of the country (Yellow-billed Oxpecker). The Red Data status of Red-billed Oxpecker in Namibia is Rare or Peripheral while Yellow-billed Oxpecker is considered Endangered. Assessments of the status of Namibian populations were made in 1983, 1984-85 and 1997-98. The aim of this study was to determine if their status and distribution had changed since the previous assessments and to ascertain the range of hosts used by the two species. The Red-billed Oxpecker population appears to have remained unchanged in terms of both numbers of birds (around 3,600 birds) and distribution. Cattle remain their most important host although a range of other hosts are used, including 10 game species, two equine species and two livestock species. The Yellow-billed Oxpecker population in the north-east may have increased but remains low (at around 2,300 birds) and there is evidence to suggest that its range has contracted. For the Yellow-billed Oxpecker in the north-east, the primary hosts are cattle and buffalo, Syncerus caffer, with these birds using seven game species, one equine species and one livestock species. In the north-west, Yellow-billed Oxpecker appears to have expanded its range and, as no assessment of the numbers of birds was made here, it is suggested that future efforts focus on determining population estimates for this population which was previously considered to be marginal in Namibia.
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