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Nubian Bustard Neotis nuba
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is classified as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline owing to intense hunting in parts of its range, in combination with other factors. However, if further information shows that the decline is rapid, the species would warrant uplisting to Vulnerable.

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 70 cm, female 50 cm. Upperparts tawny buff, with faint vermiculations. Male has a grey neck with paler head. Striking black chin, throat and crown sides bordering a tawny cap. Whitish below. Female is smaller with less black on the chin and throat.

Distribution and population
Neotis nuba has a disjunct range across the Sahelian and, marginally, Saharan zones of Africa. The western subspecies N. n. agaze has populations in Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and western Chad, and the eastern subspecies N. n. nuba has a single population in eastern Chad and Sudan (Johnsgard 1991). N. n. agaze was formerly common in Mali and Mauritania and probably remains common only in Chad and Niger, while N. n. nuba is described as rare and little known in Sudan (Urban et al. 1986, Nikolaus 1987). Vehicle-based transect surveys for raptors in the Sahel zone of Mali and Niger in 2004 failed to record any bustard species, despite N. nuba being frequently recorded along the same transects in 1971 and 1973 (Thiollay 2006). Bustards can be inconspicuous, which, coupled with the focus of these surveys on raptors, means that some birds were probably missed, and local hunters reported that bustard species were still extant in the surveyed areas; however, the difference between the survey results from the early 1970s and 2004 most likely indicates dramatic declines in this species (Thiollay 2006). Several hundred kilometres of vehicle-based transects have been conducted recently in Mauritania in search of N. nuba, without any success by January 2012 (K. DuRose in litt. 2012). 

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as fairly common (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Trend justification
There are few data on population trends, but levels of hunting pressure indicate that it is probably declining at a moderately rapid rate.

It occupies desert fringes, semi-arid scrub and savanna where it feeds on large insects, as well as grass seeds, leaves and fruits (Urban et al. 1986).

There is little information on the current status of this species or its population trends. However, it apparently suffers from widespread hunting, which may now be causing substantial declines in parts of its range (Urban et al. 1986, Johnsgard 1991). Over-hunting is probably the main cause of declines in the bustard species of Sahelian West Africa. Off-take by local nomads has been augmented by the hunting activities of military and mining personnel, as well as tourists (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Thiollay 2006). Civil war in Chad in the 1980s, and recent unrest in Sudan, is likely to have increased local hunting pressure because of the number of weapons available. Other threats to N. nuba may include the intensification of land use, disturbance by off-road vehicles, overgrazing, disturbance by livestock, firewood collection and commercial wood collection (J. Brouwer in litt. 1999). Although the Sahel zone has seen only a limited impact from West Africa’s rapid human population growth, along with low population densities and a predominantly traditional nomadic lifestyle, habitat degradation is occurring through the thinning of sparse non-regenerating Acacia woodlands, as well as the overgrazing of sub-desert steppes and excessive harvesting of firewood, which are followed by wind erosion and sand encroachment (Thiollay 2006).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. Conservation Actions Proposed
Regularly monitor the species at selected sites across its range to determine trends. Research the extent and nature of the threat caused by hunting. If sensible and feasible, regulate hunting. Ensure complete protection of important populations of both subspecies.

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

Johnsgard, P. A. 1991. Bustards, hemipodes, and sandgrouse birds of dry places. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Nikolaus, G. 1987. Distribution atlas of Sudan's birds with notes on habitat and status. Zoologischesforschungs Institut und Museum Alexander Koenig, Bonn.

Thiollay, J.-M. 2006. Severe declines of large birds in the northern Sahel of West Africa: a long-term assessment. Bird Conservation International 16(4): 353-365.

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
Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Pilgrim, J., Robertson, P., Taylor, J. & Symes, A.

Brouwer, J., Dowsett, R., DuRose, K. & Wacher, T.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Neotis nuba. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Otididae (Bustards)
Species name author (Cretzschmar, 1826)
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 2,390,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change