Cameroon remains one of the world’s least visited yet most thoroughly rewarding birding destinations. Forming the intergrade between West and Central Africa, this beautiful country harbors a wide range of habitats, from vast tracts of lowland rainforest in Korup, the magnificent montane forests of Bakossi and Mount Kupe, huge stretches of broad-leaved woodlands in Benoue and Ngaoundaba, to extensive Sahelian semi-desert and savannah in the Waza area. Cameroon also hosts the highest mountain in West Africa, namely Mount Cameroon, an active volcano standing at 4,040 metres (13,255 feet). These habitats in turn hold an array of very rare, beautiful and altogether exceptional birds, which are either extremely difficult or simply impossible to see anywhere else.
One such species is the incredible Grey-necked Rockfowl, which is restricted to the Lower Guinea forests of Central Africa. The Rockfowl family is endemic to Africa and consists of just this species and the White-necked Rockfowl, which occurs only in the Upper Guinea forests of West Africa. Unfortunately due to loss of habitat, both are now threatened and are categorized on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable.
Unique, strange, unusual and bizarre are all words that could be used to describe this sought-after bird, which was once regarded as one of the least known and most confusing taxa of any of the world’s species. Their family classification has long been debated and over the years has seen them sitting together with babblers, flycatchers, starlings, Old World warblers and crows at one point or another! They are now however placed in their own family, Picathartidae, with their closest relatives being the Rockjumpers of South Africa. The fabulous Korup National Park in Cameroon (where this phenomenal image was recently captured by Markus Lilje) offers an exceptional opportunity of viewing this species, which is undoubtedly still one of the most highly prized birds in the world!
Other top targets on our Cameroon birding tour (which typically racks up close on 600 bird species and a wealth of exciting African wildlife) include Black Guineafowl, Bannerman’s Turaco, Bare-cheeked Trogon, Vermiculated Fishing Owl, Mount Kupe and Green-breasted Bushshrikes, Mount Cameroon Speirops, Spotted Thrush-Babbler, White-throated Mountain Babbler, Saville’s and Arabian Bustards, Quail-plover, Egyptian Plover (now also placed in its own family), Golden Nightjar, Grey-headed and Rufous-sided Broadbills, Banded Wattle-eye, White-collared Starling, Cricket Longtail and Rock Firefinch.
Our next Cameroon – Rockfowl, Rainforests & Sahel tour is scheduled from 17 March to 7 April 2014 (US$6,570 * £4,320 * €4,975 * ZAR64,000 per person sharing) and will be led by the legendary David Hoddinott (one of Africa’s most experienced birders) together with Andrew Stainthorpe. If you would like to join them and reserve one of the remaining places on our 2014 tour, please contact the Rockjumper office for further details, or visit our website on the above tour link.
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