IITA Scientists carryout preliminary bird survey in Benin Republic
A survey was carried out by IITA scientists in Drabo Forest Reserve (DRF), Benin Republic between 26 February and 4 March 2019, to assess the species diversification of birds. The survey was carried out in DRF due to its location in the Dahomey Gap as both forest and savanna bird species. In addition to bird species, DRF is home to various other plants and animals, some of which are listed as threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Ornithological skills have been on the increase in Western Africa, especially after the establishment of the AP Leventis Ornithological Research Institute (APLORI) in the region. However, there are still some important gaps in specific countries, one of which is Benin Republic. Excessive exploitation, unsustainable farming practices, woodlot propagation, and urbanization are the main threats facing forest ecosystems in the area. Despite its small size and encroaching urbanization, DFR is a haven for biodiversity, especially those of high conservation concern.
Using the same transects and mist-netting sites as were used in May 2017, all birds seen or heard within a 100-m radius of forest edges were recorded. Binoculars (8 × 42 magnification) and the field guide Birds of western Africa were used to confirm the identification of birds sighted. Playbacks were used to confirm the birds heard and Geographic Positioning System was used to mark important points. Line transects were concurrent with mist-netting at four locations. However, during mist-netting, morphometric data, including sex, fat, tarsus length, pectoral muscle, brood patch, molt and mass were taken.
Results showed that a total of 376 birds, distributed across 55 species and 27 families, were recorded during the survey. Among these were 12 new additions, bringing the total number of bird species recorded at DFR to 76. Notable among the recorded species was the Cameroon Sombre Greenbul Andropadus curvirostris, an uncommon bird species, which is restricted to the Guinea-Congo Forests Biome. Furthermore, the record of Chestnut Wattle-eye Dyaphorophyia castanea, a skulking species, which depends on forest thickets and canopies, suggests the relevance of the DFR to forest specialists.
Conclusively, the diversity of birds recorded during the survey was satisfying. The diversity of birds, comprising prey and predators, pinpoints the balanced status of the DRF ecosystems.