RMCA publications

Atlas des oiseaux nicheurs de la Grande Comore, de Mohéli et d'Anjouan

L'archipel des Comores renferme un ensemble faunistique unique, composé d'une faune marine d'intérêt mondial et d'une faune terrestre, patrimoine naturel diversifié, à la fois impressionnante et fragile. La faune terrestre est beaucoup moins bien connue de la communauté scientifique et du grand public. Parmi cette faune, les oiseaux nidificateurs tiennent une place importante : l'avifaune de trois îles de l'Union des Comores (Grande Comore, Mohéli et Anjouan) est spectaculaire et compte 15 espèces terrestres endémiques. Certaines existent sur plusieurs de ces îles, mais chaque île comporte une série d'espèces et de sous-espèces endémiques (un total de 51 taxons).

L'objectif de cet Atlas est de documenter la distribution de toute l'avifaune nicheuse de la Grande Comore, de Mohéli et d'Anjouan, pour la période 1981-2006 (59 espèces). Des calculs zoogéographiques produisent des enveloppes écologiques et des zones contiguës de distribution de toutes ces espèces et finalement des zones de richesse en espèces et en espèces et taxons endémiques. Cet ouvrage définit les zones d'endémicité, qui sont importantes pour la conservation des oiseaux aux Comores et se veut donc un outil pour les « décideurs » de la conservation et de la gestion des communautés faunistiques terrestres ; mais il est aussi destiné aux naturalistes et aux chercheurs, ainsi qu'aux enseignants.


Observations from 1981 to 2006 by RMCA ornithologists and collaborators were used to produce the present Atlas of breeding birds of the Union of the Comoros, consisting of the three islands named below (the fourth island, Mayotte, while claimed by the Union, is at present administered by France). This part of the archipelago, which is situated between the African mainland and Madagascar, is home to a total of 59 breeding birds: 47 on Grande Comore, 44 on Moheli and 39 on Anjouan, including no less than 15 endemic species and 51 endemic taxa (see Tables 1-4 for their French, English and scientific names and their distribution).

It is the first atlas of this archipelago's breeding bird species and habitats, featuring grid maps that locate where each species was recorded. ‘Ecological envelopes' around these locations delimit potential ranges in distribution and altitude. For this analysis, maps were scanned and georeferenced, while features of special interest (altitude, forested/non-forested areas, rainfall, rivers, lakes, villages and roads) were encoded. Maps grouping the ecological envelopes of all taxa, endemic taxa and endemic species show that the principle habitats for endemic birds are situated at higher altitudes on each island. On Grande Comore, this means the main forest. But on Moheli, the smallest island, intermediate altitudes also contain much endemism, while on Anjouan the forest is restricted to a ‘network of patches' that, along with agricultural areas (mostly plantations), are inhabited by (the residual) endemic taxa.

As in many parts of Africa, the Comoros suffer from significant conservation problems. Population growth has adversely influenced habitat and species richness. Environmental problems, legal issues, the need to involve local populations in bird and habitat conservation, and prospects for ecotourism are documented in some detail.

Targeting naturalists, teachers and scientists, the book's aim is to serve as a tool for biodiversity capacity-building and to contribute to the conservation and management of terrestrial communities and birds.

Funded in part by the Belgian Cooperation Agency, the Atlas is the result of a cooperative project between the Royal Museum for Central Africa of Tervuren, Belgium, and several collaborating partners, notably the Convention for Biological Diversity-Comoros and the National Museum of the Comoros (CNDRS).