Gabonese Republic

Western Bluebill Spermophaga haematina ©Jonathan Rossouw Website
Birding Gabon

Gabon is a country in west central Africa, located on the equator sharing borders with the Gulf of Guinea to the west, Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, and Cameroon to the north, with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. Its size is almost 270,000 km² with an estimated population of 1,500,000. The capital and largest city is Libreville.

It has an equatorial climate with an extensive system of rainforests covering 85% of the country, there are also grasslands, savannas, large rivers and coastal lagoons.

There are three distinct regions: the coastal plains (ranging between 20 to 300 km from the ocean’s shore), the mountains (the Cristal Mountains to the northeast of Libreville, the Chaillu Massif in the centre, culminating at 1575 m with Mont Iboundji), and the savanna in the east. Gabon’s largest river is the Ogooué which is 1200 km long.

Gabon has three karst areas where there are hundreds of caves located in the dolomite and limestone rocks. Some of the caves include Grotte du Lastoursville, Grotte du Lebamba, Grotte du Bongolo, and Grotte du Kessipougou. Many caves have not been explored yet. A National Geographic Expedition visited the caves in the summer of 2008 to document them (Expedition Website). Gabon is also noted for efforts to preserve the natural environment.

In 2002, President Omar Bongo Ondimba put Gabon firmly on the map as an important future ecotourism destination by nominating more than 11% of the nation’s territory as National Park (13 in total), which may be the largest area of nature parks in the world. Natural resources include: petroleum, magnesium, iron, gold, uranium, and forests.

Wildlife includes forest elephants, African elephants, buffalo, various antelope and monkey species, sitatungas, leopards, three species of crocodiles, chimps and gorillas, as well as several marine turtle species which nest along the coast.

There are around 750 species of birds none of which are endemic, but some, such as the Ja River Scrub Warbler, Gabon Batis, African River Martin, and Black-chinned Weaver are restricted to Central Africa and have only small ranges. The Grey-necked Rockfowl (Picathartes) and Loango Weaver are classed as vulnerable species by the IUCN.

Contributors
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 774

    As of June 2018
Checklist

  • iGoTerra Checklist

    iGoTerra Checklist
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
Useful Reading

  • A Birders Checklist of the Birds of Gabon

    By D Sargeant | Dave Sargeant | 1994 | Spiralbound | 18 Pages | ISBN: #25305 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • A Birders Guide to Gabon, West Africa

    D Sargeant | Dave Sargeant | 1993 | Spiralbound | 102 pages, Maps, A4, looseleaf with plastic binder | ISBN: #25303 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Birds of Western Africa

    By Nik Borrow & Ron Demey | Christopher Helm | 2014 | Paperback | 592 pages, 266 plates with colour illustrations; colour distribution maps | ISBN: 9781472905680 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Coastal Waterbirds in Gabon

    Edited by FJ Schepers & ECL Marteijn | Foundation Working Group International Wader and Waterfowl Research | 1993 | Paperback | 293 pages, Maps, figs | ISBN: 9090067760 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Guide des Oiseaux de la Réserve de la Lopé

    By Patrice Christy & William Clarke | Ecofac Gabon | 1994 | Paperback | 191 pages, 59 col plates, 2 maps | ISBN: #51627 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Organisations
  • African Bird Club

    Website
    Despite being politically stable, sparsely populated and possessing large tracts of undisturbed habitat, Gabon is far from realising its potential and deserved status as a premier birding and wildlife destination. Perhaps its three most prohibitive qualities are (i) the paucity of information on travelling in Gabon, (ii) the cost of travelling there - Gabon targets almost exclusively high-end tourism, with no official campsites in the entire country - and (iii) the fact that it is completely Francophone, a deterrent to many English-only speaking birders…
  • West African Ornithological Society | Société d'Ornithologie de l'Ouest Africain

    Website
    The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society, which was founded in February 1964 by John H. Elgood, Professor of Zoology at the University of Ibadan (Nigeria) (died in 1998 — obituary in Malimbus 21: 74–75, 127–128) and Robert E. Sharland. Its object is to promote scientific interest in the birds of West Africa and to further the region’s ornithology, mainly by means of its journal Malimbus (formerly the Bulletin of the Nigerian Ornithologists’ Society). This journal is biannual and bilingual, a unique feature in Africa.
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • Important Bird Areas

    WebsiteSatellite View
    The Cameroon and Gabon lowlands Endemic Bird Area (EBA) covers much of central Gabon. The distribution of Loango Weaver Ploceus subpersonatus defines the Gabon-Cabinda coast secondary EBA
  • NP Bateke Plateau

    InformationSatellite View
    Some of the birds in Batéké Plateau National Park include the Black-headed Bee-eater, Forbes’ Plover, larks, pipits, quailfinches, cisticola, francolins, Congo Moor-chat, Marsh Widowbird, weavers, Black-collared Bulbul, Angola Batis and bush shrikes among others.
  • NP Ivindo

    InformationSatellite View
    The park covers 300,000 ha, almost all of which is forested with a mixture of Atlantic coastal forest of Lower Guinea, and semi-deciduous forest typical of central Congo Basin. Wildlife includes western lowland gorilla, common chimpanzee, African forest buffalo, red river hog, sitatunga, as well as one of the last relativity intact populations of forest elephants. Notable bird species include grey-necked rockfowl, while more than 430 bird species have been recorded within the park.
  • NP Loango

    InformationSatellite View
    Loango National Park is a national park in western Gabon. It protects diverse coastal habitat, including part of the 220 km² Iguéla Lagoon, the only significant example of a typical western African lagoon system that is protected within a national park.
  • NP Lope

    WebpageSatellite View
    Lope National Park is situated right in the centre of Gabon and was the first protected area following the creation of the Lope-Okanda Wildlife Reserve in 1946. When the country’s President declared the creation of 13 national parks in 2002, Lope National Park was included.
  • NP Minkébé

    InformationSatellite View
    Species of bird, including the spot-breasted ibis (Bostrychia rara) and Rachel's malimbe (Malimbus racheliae), are fairly common in the park, and the tree species Sterculia subviolacea is found in the national park and not found elsewhere in Gabon.
  • NP Mwagne

    InformationSatellite View
    The rich mineral soil of the baï attracts elephants, apes, giant forest hogs and various antelopes. You'll also find the Gabon viper, fascinating spiders, stinging ferns and rare birds, but whether you'll see the dinosaur-like mokélé-mbembé of Pygmy myth is debatable. Bordering the Republic of Congo, Mwagna is in northeastern Gabon.
  • National Parks of Gabon

    WebpageSatellite View
  • SNR Ipassa Makokou

    InformationSatellite View
    The biosphere reserve is Gabon’s only area where no forest exploitation takes place thus the core area is in a relatively pristine state. Within the 15,000 hectares of the biosphere reserve, more than 2,000 plant species and 600 species of mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians and birds have been recorded.
Guides & Tour Operators


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  • Birding Ecotours

    Tour Operator
    Please note that we arrange Gabon tours by request. Contact us for further details. Birding Ecotours aims to provide world-wide birding experiences of superb quality, while contributing to environmental conservation and disadvantaged communities. Please contact us for detailed information, queries and quotations as we are happy to help you in every aspect of planning your birding holiday.
  • Mistral Voyages

    Tour Operator
    Discover tourism and ecotourism in the National Parks of Gabon
  • Tropical Birding

    Tour Operator
    Occassionally run trips to Gabon
Trip Reports


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  • 2010 [08 August] - Christian Boix

    PDF Report
    The main highlights included: White-crested Bittern, Hartlaub’s Duck, African Finfoot, Bat Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Long-tailed Hawk, Ayre’s and Cassin’s Hawk Eagle, Pel’s and Vermiculated Fishing Owls, Hottentot Buttonquail, Finsch’s and Latham’s Forest Francolin…
  • 2011 [08 August] - Peregrine Bird Tours

    PDF Report
    …Prior to breakfast the following morning, we went birding in a large area of grassland, which also had a large pond in the middle of it, which was adjacent to our hotel. New birds for the tour included a Long-tailed Cormorant, lots of Striated Herons, a good number of both pale and dark morph Western Reef-Herons, a single Common Moorhen, a delightful pair of Sao Tome Kingfishers and a large flock of out of plumage Golden-backed Bishops….
  • 2013 [07 July] - Nik Borrow

    Report PDF
    …During our time in Gabon, we were fortunate to see many of the most spectacular of all Western African birds including the delightful Grey Pratincole, a pair of Vermiculated Fishing Owls, Sjöstedt’s Barred Owlet, Brown and Bates’s Nightjars, Bare-cheeked Trogon...
  • 2016 [09 September] - David Hoddinott - Gabon, Sao Tome & Principe

    Report PDF
    Our 2016 birding adventure of Gabon and the offshore islands of Sao Tome and Principe kicked off with our pre-tour extension of the islands.
  • 2016 [09 September] - Michiel de Boer - Gabon, Sao Tomé & Principe

    Report
    ...My personal targets for this trip were the Picathartes, Rosy and Black-headed Bee-eaters, White-bellied Kingfisher (one of the last of the African Kingfishers I needed) and Bare Cheeked Trogon. Priorities were a little different with my companion George Wagner. He had not been to Cameroon but had been to Ghana and had seen the Rosy Bee-eater...
Other Links
  • Birder's Guide to Gabon

    Webpage
    Gabon, especially the southern and eastern areas, is still relatively poorly known ornithologically. This, combined with the ability to see many rare and local species within a country safe for travel, will be a great lure for many birders. Until now, no birding information has been available for Gabon; only a few scientific books, papers and articles, mostly in French. This report provides a comprehensive guide to birding Gabon, and is compiled from five years of living and birding around the country between 1988 and 1992.

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