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Important Bird Areas (IBAs)

Birdlife International's Important Bird Area (IBA) programme is a worldwide initiative aimed at identifying and protecting a global network of sites for the conservation of the world's birds and other biodiversity. To read more about Botswana's twelve IBA's click on the map of Botswana.

Note: Click on the area circle to see more

Important Bird Areas in Botswana as designated by BirdLife International

The BirdLife International Important Bird Areas Programme in Africa aims to identify, document and work towards the conservation and sustainable management of globally important areas for bird conservation, and is part of a global initiative, which began in Europe in the 1980s.

Twelve Important Bird Areas (IBAs) have been designated in Botswana which cover over 25% of the land surface of the country. IBA's include all of the National Parks, a transfrontier park and the larger Game Reserves e.g. large reserves such as Chobe, Kgalakgadi, and Central Kalahari including Kutse and small areas such as Mannyelanong Hill. Part of the Okavango Delta is a Game Reserve (Moremi Game Reserve) with other parts being Wildlife Management Areas.

The Nata Pan has been declared a sanctuary, and is managed by the local community. Other sites without a formal designation or protection include Bokaa Dam, Phakalane sewage lagoons, Lake Ngami, the south-east Botswana grasslands and the Tswapong Hills.

In Botswana, the IBAs are well distributed throughout the country. Over half of them (seven sites) are wetlands, either very large wetlands and adjacent areas (Okavango Delta, Lake Ngami, Makgadikgadi Pans and the Chobe/Linyanti river system), or small artificial wetlands (Bokaa Dam). Two sites are designated as IBAs because of their colonies of the globally threatened Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) and these include Mannyelanong Hill and Tswapong Hills.

Whereas a further two sites are designated for their large non-breeding populations of the Palearctic migrants including Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni), Red-Footed Falcon (F. vespertinus), Amur Falcon (F. amurensis) and Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica). IBA's in areas of Kalahari-Highveld biome have associated restricted species, and include the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Kgalakgadi Transfrontier Park. The southeast Botswana site, which comprises hills, savanna, grasslands, pans and farmland, is included for its populations of Short-Clawed Lark (Certhilauda chuana).


A Site Support Group (SSG) is an organised group of like-minded local people living in or around an important biodiversity site, interacting with and sustainably using its resources (at different levels), in pursuit of a common interest. All SSG operations are guided by a clear vision, mission, objectives and activities, and the SSG embraces the principles of sustainable use to manage natural resources. The form and set-up of SSGs vary: they may be self-help groups, Community-based Organisations (CBOs), bird-watching or guiding groups, or could even be sports clubs, but they must always have an environmental agenda.  There are over 150 SSGs associated with Important Bird Areas throughout Africa.

BirdLife Botswana has only recently started engaging with local communities to form SSGs, through the SwedBio project which aims to “sustain biodiversity to sustain livelihoods in rural Botswana”. Under this project, SSGs are being established at Lake Ngami, Makgadikgadi Pans and Mannyelanong Hill.

To find out more about existing Site Support Groups, click on the link below:


The most important ornithological sites in Botswana are undoubtedly included in the list of IBAs, but large populations of Kalahari-Highveld species clearly lie outside them, as too do large numbers of dispersed species such as raptors. (information from Tyler, S.J. and Bishop, B.R. (1998). Botswana. In: The Important Bird Areas of Southern Africa. Barnes, K.N. (ed.) BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg. ISBN: 0-620-23423-7).

To summarise Important Bird Areas of Botswana include:

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