The Central African Republic is a developing nation that has experienced several periods of political instability since independence. Although it has a number of National Parks, facilities for tourism are limited. It has pristine forests but also a lawless countryside and crumbling roads.

From an ornithological point of view, it is a very under-recorded country and many areas have not been visited in recent years. With a list of over 700 species, the Central African Republic might appeal to the more adventurous traveller but you should review the latest travel warnings before embarking on a trip.

The rainy season lasts six months in the south of the country from May to October, diminishing progressively to four months from June to September as you head north. The majority of the country lies in the Sudan-Guinea Savanna biome and 44 of the 54 species of this biome have been recorded.

The rainforest is part of the Guinea-Congo Forests biome and 178 of its 288 species are known. Eight sites have been selected as Important Bird Areas (IBAs) which represent the major habitats for birds and cover 12% of the land area. 98% of the species known to occur in the country are found within these IBAs.

André Félix National Park and the Manovo-Gounda-St Floris National Park Manovo-Gounda-St Floris National Park are situated in the north-east of the country on the Sudan/Chad borders. Bozoum is situated in the west of the country near the border with Cameroon.

The following species have been recorded in all of the above IBAs, Fox Kestrel, Heuglin's Francolin, Red-throated Bee-eater, Yellow-billed Shrike, Senegal Eremomela, Brown-rumped Bunting, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver and Purple Glossy Starling. Sangha Forest Robin Stiphrornis sanghensis has been described as a species new to science found only in the Dzanga-Sangha Forest Reserve to date where it is described as common. Other evidence suggests that it is in fact a subspecies of Forest Robin S. erythrothorax sanghensis.

Text supplied by the African Bird Club

Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver

Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver © Peregrine Rowse

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