Republic of Chad

Little Weaver Ploceus luteolus ©Jason Boyce Website
Birding Chad

Chad, officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west. Due to its distance from the sea and its largely desert climate, the country is sometimes referred to as the ‘Dead Heart of Africa’. Chad is divided into three major geographical regions: a desert zone in the north, an arid Sahelian belt in the centre and a more fertile Sudanese savanna zone in the south. Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the largest wetland in Chad and the second largest in Africa. Chad’s highest peak is the Emi Koussi in the Sahara, and N’Djamena,(formerly Fort-Lamy), the capital, is the largest city. Chad is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. Arabic and French are the official languages. Islam is the most widely practiced religion.

At 1,284,000 square kilometres (496,000 sq mi), Chad is the world’s 21st-largest country. It is slightly smaller than Peru and slightly larger than South Africa. Chad is in north central Africa, lying between 8° and 24° north and between 14° and 24° east. Chad is bounded to the north by Libya, to the east by Sudan, to the west by Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon, and to the south by the Central African Republic. The country’s capital is 1,060 km (660 mi) from the nearest seaport Douala (Cameroon). Due to this distance from the sea and the country’s largely desert climate, Chad is sometimes referred to as the “Dead Heart of Africa”.A heritage of the colonial era, Chad’s borders do not coincide wholly with natural boundaries. The dominant physical structure is a wide basin bounded to the north, east and south by mountain ranges. Lake Chad, after which the country is named, is the remains of an immense lake that occupied 330,000 km² (130,000 sq mi) of the Chadian Basin 7,000 years ago. Although in the 21st century it covers only 17,806 km² (6,875 sq mi), and its surface area is subject to heavy seasonal fluctuations, the lake is Africa’s second largest wetland. The Emi Koussi, a dormant volcano in the Tibesti Mountains that reaches 3,414 metres (13,435 ft) above sea level, is the highest point in Chad and the Sahara.Each year a tropical weather system known as the intertropical front crosses Chad from south to north, bringing a wet season that lasts from May to October in the south, and from June to September in the Sahel. Variations in local rainfall create three major geographical zones. The Sahara lies in the country’s northern third. Yearly precipitations there are under 50 millimetres (2 in); in fact, Borkou in Chad is the most arid area of the Sahara. Vegetation throughout this belt is scarce; only the occasional spontaneous palm grove survives, the only ones to do so south of the Tropic of Cancer. The Sahara gives way to a Sahelian belt in Chad’s centre; precipitation there varies from 300 mm to 600 mm (12–24 in) per year. In the Sahel a steppe of thorny bushes (mostly acacias) gradually gives way to a savanna in Chad’s Sudanese zone to the south. Yearly rainfall in this belt is over 900 mm (35 in). The region’s tall grasses and extensive marshes make it favourable for birds, reptiles, and large mammals. Chad’s major rivers – the Chari, Logone and their tributaries – flow through the southern savannas from the southeast into Lake Chad.

Over 80% of Chad’s population relies on subsistence farming and livestock raising for its livelihood. The crops grown and the locations of herds are determined by the local climate. In the southernmost 10 percent of the territory lies the nation’s most fertile cropland, with rich yields of sorghum and millet. In the Sahel only the hardier varieties of millet grow, and these with much lower yields than in the south. On the other hand, the Sahel is ideal pastureland for large herds of commercial cattle and for goats, sheep, donkeys and horses. The Sahara’s scattered oases support only some dates and legumes. Before the development of oil industry, cotton dominated industry and the labour market and accounted for approximately 80% of export earnings

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 588

    (As at September 2018)
  • iGoTerra Checklist

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

    Chad WP
    Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web
  • African Bird Club

    After decades of civil war and with limited tourist infrastructure, it is not surprising that there are few ornithological records from Chad in recent years. However, with a bird list of over 500 species including Schlegel
  • West African Ornithological Society

    The West African Ornithological Society grew out of the Nigerian Ornithologists

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Manda

    InformationSatellite View
    Manda NP occupies a total area of 440 square miles. Prior to its elevation as a national park, Manda was strictly a faunal reserve. Manda National Park is rich in birds’ species including Yellow penduline, white collared Starling, and Bush petronia.
  • NP Zakouma

    InformationSatellite View
    Zakouma National Park is a 1,158-square-mile (3,000 km2) national park in southeastern Chad's Salamat Region. Zakouma is the nation's oldest national park. Birds include ostriches, cranes, eagles, egrets, herons, ibis, pelicans, and storks. Special species include Abyssinian ground hornbills, black-breasted barbets, northern carmine bee-eaters, and red-billed queleas.
  • WII Lac Fitri

    InformationSatellite View
    Similarly to Chad's other lake, Lake Chad, it is not quite as large as once was. It has been designated under the Ramsar Convention as a Wetland of International Importance.
  • WII Lake Chad

    InformationSatellite View
    There are many floating islands in the lake. It is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants, hippopotamus, crocodile (all in decline), and large communities of migrating birds including wintering ducks, ruff (Philomachus pugnax) and other waterfowl and shore birds. There are two near-endemic birds in the region, the river prinia (Prinia fluviatilis) and the rusty lark (Mirafra rufa). The shrinking of the lake is threatening nesting sites of the black-crowned crane (Balearica pavonina pavonina).
Guides & Tour Operators
  • BirdQuest

    Tour Operator
    Chad Birding Tours: our Chad bird watching tour explores a rarely-visited region of West Africa with some exciting specialities. Our Chad birding expedition covers the south, east and northeast of this huge country in search of our major targets: Nubian (and Arabian) Bustards, Niam-niam Parrot, Black-breasted Barbet, Rusty Bush Lark, African Dunn's Lark, Heuglin's Wheatear and Kordofan Sparrow.

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