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Tuesday, 7 August 2012

F is for Francolin

Note from the writer: CCF has carried out a number of camera trapping surveys, and also maintains a network of cameras positioned for ongoing monitoring of the wildlife on our land.  While we are mainly focused on cheetahs, there are many other species out there, and the cameras will trigger no matter what passes them by.  In this series of weekly blog entries, I will use these pictures to illustrate some of the wealth of animal life in Namibia - one species per week.  I hope you will enjoy seeing a little more of our world here in the bush.

Today I have our first offering for the ornithologists out there with the red-billed francolin.  Although it is also known as the red-billed spurfowl, the name francolin is still in use at CCF, and elsewhere.  

The red-billed francolin is a common sight across much of Namibia and Botswana, and can also be found in small portions of Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and, possibly, Angola.  It is a ground-living bird in the same family group as grouse, pheasants and partridges.  Typically found in large groups, they are slow to fly and usually land again as soon as possible - often a few metres further down the road you are trying to drive along!

Males have a razor sharp 'spur' on the back of their legs, but are otherwise almost identical to the females.  They stand up to 38 cm (15") and are usually found in dry thorn bush, seasonal riverbeds and broad-leafed woods.  

Although they have not been studied enough for anyone to be certain of the population, it is believed to be well over the 10,000 mark, under which is one of the criteria for a IUCN listing of vulnerable.  Given that the population also appears to be stable and is certainly widespread, they are classified as "Least Concern".  Although occasionally killed for human consumption (and usually stewed), the practice makes no measurable impact and there seems no danger in the foreseeable future of our loosing this loud-spoken species.

Rob Thomson

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