Republic of Burundi

Papyrus Gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri ©Jason Boyce Website
Birding Burundi

Burundi, officially the Republic of Burundi, is a small country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the south and east, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Although the country is landlocked, much of the southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.Poor land management has damaged the country’s environment. Overgrazing and the expansion of agriculture into marginal lands have contributed to severe soil erosion. Most of the country’s once extensive forests have been cleared for pastureland and farmland, and human settlements are encroaching upon the habitats of Burundi’s wildlife. Of the animal species that inhabit Burundi, 18 are threatened. Burundi has ratified an international agreement intended to protect endangered species. About 5.3 percent of the country’s total area is officially protected from development. The main protected areas are Kibira National Park, Ruvubu National Park, Ruzizi Nature Reserve, and Bururi Nature Reserve.

One of the smallest countries in Africa, Burundi is landlocked and has an equatorial climate. Burundi is a part of the Albertine Rift, the western extension of the Great Rift Valley. The country lies on a rolling plateau in the center of Africa. The average elevation of the central plateau is 5,600 feet (1,700m), with lower elevations at the borders. The highest peak, Mount Heha at 8,810 feet (2,690m), lies to the southeast of the capital, Bujumbura. The Nile is a major river in Burundi. Lake Victoria is also an important water source, which serves as a fork to the Kagera River. Another major lake is Lake Tanganyika, located in much of Burundi’s southwestern corner.Burundi’s lands are mostly agricultural or pasture. Settlement by rural populations has led to deforestation, soil erosion and habitat loss. Deforestation of the entire country is almost completely due to overpopulation, with a mere 230 square miles (600km2) remaining and an ongoing loss of about 9% per annum. There are two national parks, Kibira National Park to the northwest (a small region of rain forest, adjacent to Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda), Rurubu National Park to the northeast (along the Rurubu River, also known as Ruvubu or Ruvuvu). Both were established in 1982 to conserve wildlife populations.

Burundi is one of the poorest countries on the planet, owing in part to its landlocked geography, poor legal system, lack of access to education, and the proliferation of HIV/AIDS. Approximately 80% of Burundi’s population lives in poverty. Famines and food shortages have occurred throughout Burundi, most notably in the 20th century, and according to the World Food Programme, 56.8% of children under age five suffer from chronic malnutrition. One scientific study of 178 nations rated Burundi’s population as having the lowest satisfaction with life in the world. As a result of poverty, Burundi is dependent on foreign aid. Burundi’s largest industry is agriculture, which accounted for 58% of the GDP in 1997. Subsistence agriculture accounts for 90% of agriculture. The nation’s largest source of revenue is coffee, which makes up 93% of Burundi’s exports. Other agriculture products include cotton, tea, maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, manioc (tapioca); beef, milk, and hides. Some of Burundi’s natural resources include uranium, nickel, cobalt, copper, and platinum.

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 690

    As at June 2018
  • iGoTerra Checklist

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

  • Birds of East Africa

    | (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi) | by Terry Stevenson & John Fanshawe | illustrated by Brian Small & John Gale | Christopher Helm | 2004 | Paperback | 640 pages, colour plates, colour distribution maps, colour & b/w maps | ISBN: 9780713673470 Buy this book from
  • African Bird Club

    Given its recent history, few birdwatchers have been to Burundi for a decade or more and records are limited. With a species list of almost 600 in such a small country, one can only hope that travel possibilities improve in the not too distant future…
  • Association Burundaise pour la Protection des Oiseaux

    The mission of ABN is «to contribute to the conservation of Nature and to sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystem services for the great benefit of the Burundian population. ABN has the objective to promote love and conservation of Nature in all Burundian social categories through sensitisation, awareness raising, and environmental information dissemination.
  • West African Ornithological Society

    The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Kibira

    InformationSatellite View
    The Kibira National Park is a national park in northwestern Burundi. Overlapping four provinces and covering 400 km2, Kibira National Park lies atop the mountains of the Congo-Nile Divide. It extends north from the provincial town of Muramvya to the border of Rwanda where it is contiguous with the Nyungwe National Park. Some of the important birds found here include the great blue turaco, mountain buzzard (Buteo oreophilus), white-spotted flufftail (Sarothrura pulchra), grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus), bar-tailed trogon (Apaloderma vittatum) and the black-and-white-casqued hornbill (Bycanistes subcylindricus).
  • NP Ruvubu

    InformationSatellite View
    Located in north-eastern Burundi, the park extends south-westwards from the border with Tanzania along a 65km stretch of the valley of the Ruvubu river. Wildlife in the Ruvubu National Park consists of animals like hippopotamus, buffalo, crocodiles, leopard, monkeys, antelope and lion. Bird lovers will have a marvelous time in the Ruvubu National Park as more than 425 species of birds thrive in this park making it all the more attractive.
Trip Reports
  • 2014 [04 April] - Rhys Marsh - Kibira National Park

    I recently traveled to Burundi with a team from UNICEF to design a sustainable business model to bring electric lighting to some of the most impoverished communities in the world (shameless plug: visit here for more information). However, I wasn't going to travel all the way to one of the least-visited regions of the Albertine Rift without exploring the local avian fauna!

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