According to the 2015 Eskom Red Data Book of Birds there are currently 10 critically endangered bird species in South Africa. Wild takes a look at the state of the species and why they’re under threat. 

Tristan albatross (Diomedea dabbenena)

Globally critically endangered

Global numbers: 4,700 mature individuals

Where are they found in SA? Occasionally spotted off the west coast of South Africa.

Threats include: South African fisheries, longline fishing vessels mainly off South America, plastic, predation by introduced house mice on Gough Island.

Did you know? Their plumage gradually whitens over a period of 20 years.

Wattled Crane-JHB Zoo-Arnold Ras

Wattled Crane by Arnold Ras

Wattled Crane (Bugeranus carunculatus)

Regionally critically endangered

Regional numbers: Less than 250 mature individuals

Where are they found in SA? Eastern grasslands of the country with the core population located in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. A few pairs are also found in the grasslands of northern Eastern Cape around Ugie and Maclear and the Highveld grasslands of Mpumalanga and eastern Free State.

Threats include: Loss and degradation of wetlands due to agriculture, forestry and mining.

Did you know? They are monogamous and will pair for life.

Southern Banded Snake Eagle_Martin Taylor

Southern banded snake eagle by Martin Taylor

Southern banded snake eagle (Circaetus fasciolatus)

Regionally critically endangered

Regional numbers: 40 to 50 mature individuals

Where are they found in SA? Northern KwaZulu-Natal

Threats include: Habitat loss due to forestry, agriculture and tourist developments.

Did you know? Their bellies are white with a distinctive narrow brown barring.

Taita falcon (Falco fasciinucha)

Regionally critically endangered

Regional numbers: Fewer than 50 mature individuals

Where are they found in SA? Restricted to the Drakensberg escarpment in Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Threats include: The transformation of productive woodlands into open habitat.

Did you know? There are at least seven known nest sites in SA. One of these is located above the Abel Erasmus pass – look out for the signboard that indicates the viewing spot.

White-winged flufftail (Sarothrura ayresi)

Regionally critically endangered

Regional numbers: Less than 50 mature individuals

Where are they found in SA? Two sites in KwaZulu-Natal, four sites in northern-eastern Free State and two sites in eastern Mpumalanga.

Threats include: Loss of wetland habitat due to mining activities, erosion and the construction of dams.

Did you know? The white-winged flufftail occurs in South Africa and Ethiopia but, as far as we know, there are no established populations anywhere in between.

Leach’s storm petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa)

Regionally critically endangered

Regional numbers: Approximately 10 mature individuals

Where are they found in SA? Only two confirmed breeding locations in SA including Dassen and Dyer islands.

Threats include: Avian predators, domestic cats and disturbance at breeding sites due to tourism.

Did you know? Nests are located in cavities in dry stonewalls.

Crozet shag (Phalacrocorax melanogenis)

Regionally critically endangered

Regional numbers: Approximately 230 pairs

Where are they found in SA? Prince Edward and Marion islands.

Threats include: Poor breeding success, reduced food availability, Antarctic fur seals.

Did you know? These birds are usually silent at sea but utter contact honks wile foraging.

Blue swallow (Hirundo atrocaerulea)

Regionally critically endangered

Regional numbers: Fewer than 106 mature individuals

Where are they found in SA? Restricted to grasslands in the eastern escarpment, Ixopo district in KwaZulu-Natal.

Threats include: Forestry, invasion by alien eucalyptus, pine and wattle trees, and inappropriate farming methods.

Did you know? Blue swallows significantly prefer wetlands to grasslands for foraging.

Damara tern (Sterna balaenarum)

Regionally critically endangered

Regional numbers: 70 to 100 mature individuals

Where are they found in SA? Alexandria dune fields east of Port Elizabeth.

Threats include: Off-road vehicle disturbance, direct fatalities due to crushed eggs and chicks.

Did you know? After the use of off-road vehicles was banned on SA beaches breeding success increased.

Bearded Vulture_Martin Taylor

Bearded vulture by Martin Taylor

Bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus)

Regionally critically endangered

Regional numbers: 200 mature individuals

Where are they found in SA? Along the Drakensberg escarpment of eastern KwaZulu-Natal, north-eastern Eastern Cape and north-eastern Free State.

Threats include: Poisoning, collision with power-lines, reduction in food supply

Did you know? Close-up sightings of bearded vultures are possible from the bird hides at Golden Gate and Giant’s Castle.

All information courtesy of The 2015 Eskom Red Data Book of Birds.