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The University of Cape Town’s Animal Demography Unit (ADU) is a leader in atlas projects in South Africa. Their first Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP1) ran for five years, ending in 1992 and produced the first comprehensive atlas of bird distributions for southern Africa. Thousands of citizen scientists enthusiastically provided over 100 000 checklists for SABAP1.

Bird distributions have changed in the last two decades, but how much have they changed and what implications does this have for bird biodiversity conservation? SABAP2 was launched in 2007. SABAP2 has been refined to collect more detailed information on bird distributions, and submission of data is mainly electronic. Data and coverage maps are reflected and updated on the project website every three hours. The project requires some level of bird identification but novice birders can also get involved by attending training sessions and bird ID courses which are run by regional bird clubs. The project also has Regional Atlas Committees which assist in promoting the project and getting prospective atlasers up and running. Currently there are 462 active registered atlasers. For more information on the project, details on the protocols, and how to register as an atlaser please visit SABAP2 or contact Doug Harebottle.