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Cape Verde Islands
Country/Territory Cape Verde
Area 4,000 
Altitude 0 - 2,800m  
Priority high 
Habitat loss severe 
Knowledge incomplete 

General characteristics 

The Cape Verdes, an independent republic, are situated c.500 km off the west coast of Africa. They consist of two groups of volcanic islands of which the largest is Santiago (991 km2). The islands are either mountainous with peaks reaching over 1,000 m (and up to 2,800 m on Fogo, the only active volcano), or have low relief and consequently receive little and irregular rain.

The original vegetation, before human colonization started during the fifteenth century, included savanna or steppe vegetation, perhaps with scattered Acacias and figs, with the flatter islands supporting semi-desert plants.

Restricted-range species 

Alauda razae is confined to uninhabited Raso (7 km2) where suitable breeding habitat represents less than half of the islet's total area, and Acrocephalus brevipennis is now confined to Santiago where it is locally distributed mainly in the interior. The other two species are more widely dispersed.

An additional seven landbirds are recognized by Hazevoet (1995) as being endemic phylogenetic species, and these forms contribute significantly to the uniqueness of the islands: Cape Verde Purple Heron Ardea (purpurea) bournei (see also Hazevoet 1992), Cape Verde Kite Milvus (milvus) fasciicauda, Cape Verde Buzzard Buteo (buteo) bannermani, Alexander's Kestrel Falco (tinnunculus) alexandri, Neglected Kestrel Falco (tinnunculus) neglectus, Cape Verde Peregrine Falco (peregrinus) madens and Cape Verde Barn Owl Tyto (alba) detorta (see Hazevoet 1996 for a discussion of the phylogenetic species concept in relation to the Cape Verde avifauna, also Collar 1996).

Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae is a seabird which is largely endemic (when breeding) to this EBA (a second smaller population breeds in the Desertas, see EBA 120). The population of P. feae on the Cape Verdes is also recognized as a phylogenetic species by Hazevoet (1995), as are two other seabirds: Cape Verde Shearwater Calonectris (diomedea) edwardsii and Cape Verde Little Shearwater Puffinus (assimilis) boydi.

Species IUCN Category
Alexander's Swift (Apus alexandri)  LC 
Raso Lark (Alauda razae)  CR 
Cape Verde Warbler (Acrocephalus brevipennis)  EN 
Iago Sparrow (Passer iagoensis)  LC 

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)

IBA Code Site Name Country
CV001  Ilhéu de Curral Velho and adjacent coastal area  Cape Verde 
CV002  Ribeira do Rabil  Cape Verde 
CV004  Serra do Pico da Antónia  Cape Verde 
CV005  Pedra Badejo lagoons  Cape Verde 
CV008  Volcano area, Ilha do Fogo  Cape Verde 
CV009  Ilhéus do Rombo  Cape Verde 
CV010  Ilhéu Branco  Cape Verde 
CV011  Ilhéu Raso  Cape Verde 
CV012  Central mountain range of Ilha de São Nicolau  Cape Verde 

Threats and conservation 

Over the past five centuries, the combined effects of drought, poor agricultural techniques, the introduction of large numbers of alien herbaceous plant and tree species, the devastating effects of an abundance of goats, and high human population pressure have led to an almost complete destruction of the original vegetation on many of the islands of the Cape Verdes, most arable land now being cleared and planted with maize and beans. Dry woodland and scrub occupy large areas of the arid plains, which have been afforested in the last few decades, but the avifauna of these areas is generally poor.

Two of the endemic bird species are considered threatened: Alauda razae on account of its very small population (c.250 birds in 1992) and range, and Acrocephalus brevipennis because of its small and declining population (500 pairs) and range (extinct on two islands probably through drought and associated habitat loss). As a ground-nester, A. razae is extremely vulnerable to the accidental introduction of rats, cats and dogs by fisherman visiting the islet to collect seabirds' eggs and young; a lone dog was seen on Raso in 1994 (C. J. Hazevoet in litt. 1995).

Several of the subspecies (see 'Restricted-range species', above) are uncommon, including Ardea (purpurea) bournei (c.25 pairs on Santiago), Milvus (milvus) fasciicauda and Buteo (buteo) bannermani (both rare on Santiago and Santo Ant

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Endemic Bird Area factsheet: Cape Verde Islands. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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