email a friend
printable version
Denham's Bustard Neotis denhami

This species is estimated to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline owing to hunting pressure and conversion of grassland habitat for agriculture, and it is therefore classified as Near Threatened.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Male 100cm, female 80cm. Large bustard with grey crown bordered black, white supercillium, whitish-grey face and black line running back from eye. Grey foreneck; hindneck orange-brown. A large black and white patterned panel is visible on the folded wing. Highly distinctive.

Distribution and population
Neotis denhami occurs in southern Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Mali, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Niger, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Angola, Malawi, Zambia (a stronghold), Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana (where it is very scarce [Hancock 2008]), the extreme southern tip of Mozambique, South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Although very widely distributed, it has suffered population declines through much, if not all, of its range (Urban et al. 1986). The Rift Valley in Kenya was formerly regarded as its stronghold, but there are now probably fewer than 300 in all of Kenya (L. Bennun in litt. 1999), and its range has contracted in this country (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It is considered common in Central African Republic and parts of Uganda, but there have been declines in Sudan, South Sudan and Nigeria (del Hoyo et al. 1996). In South Africa, the total Transvaal breeding population only numbers c.300 birds, and the South Cape Province winter population is an estimated 956 birds (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as common in the Central African Republic and parts of Uganda (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Trend justification
The species's range has contracted in Kenya and there have been declines in Sudan and Nigeria (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and overall the species is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid global population decline owing to hunting pressure and conversion of grassland habitat for agriculture.

Found up to 3,000 m (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It inhabits grasslands, grassy Acacia-studded dunes, fairly dense shrubland, light woodland, farmland, crops, dried marsh and arid scrub plains, also grass-covered ironstone pans and burnt savanna woodland in Sierra Leone and high rainfall sour grassveld, planted pastures and cereal croplands in fynbos in South Africa (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It feeds on insects, small vertebrates and plant material (Collar 1996, T. Dodman in litt. 1999). The breeding season is variable and consequently unclear, perhaps indicating opportunism in reaction to rainfall (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The clutch-size is one or two (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Hunting is the primary cause of declines across the Sahel (Newby 1990) and throughout West Africa (Turner and Goriup 1989, Collar 1996, P. Hall in litt. 1999). In eastern and southern Africa, hunting is also a problem (Parker 1999), but the main threat appears to be conversion of grassland and light woodland to agriculture (Collar 1996, Turner and Goriup 1989). Collisions with power lines may be a significant threat in parts of the range, particularly South Africa.

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to establish an estimate for the entire population. Carry out regular surveys to measure population trends. Monitor the rate of habitat loss, especially in Kenya and South Africa. Test the use of alternatives to reduce hunting, such as ecotourism. Protect habitat and enforce hunting bans in reserves. Research and work to reduce power-line collisions in South Africa for this and other bustard species.

Collar, N. J. 1996. Otididae (Bustards). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (ed.), Handbook of the birds of the world, pp. 240-273. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Hancock, P. 2008. Denham's Bustard. In: Hancock, P. (ed.), The status of globally and nationally threatened birds in Botswana, 2008., pp. 18. BirdLife Botswana.

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.1). Available at: (Accessed: 19 June 2012).

Newby, J. E. 1990. The slaughter of Sahelian wildlife by Arab royalty. Oryx 24: 6-8.

Parker, V. 1999. The atlas of the birds of Sul do Save, southern Mozambique. Avian Demography Unit and Endangered Wildlife Trust., Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Turner, D. A.; Goriup, P. D. 1989. The status of Denham's Bustard in Kenya. Bustard Studies 4: 170-173.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Evans, M., Martin, R, O'Brien, A., Pilgrim, J., Robertson, P., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.

Bennun, L., Brouwer, J., Carswell, M., Dodman, T., Dowsett, R., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Hall, P., Murphy, P. & Tyler, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Neotis denhami. Downloaded from on 09/10/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 09/10/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Stanley’s bustard (Neotis denhami) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Otididae (Bustards)
Species name author (Children, 1826)
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,660,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change