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Republic of Djibouti

Sooty Gulls Ichthyaetus hemprichii) ©David W Karr

Birding Djibouti

Djibouti, officially the Republic of Djibouti, is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. On the other side of the Red Sea, on the Arabian Peninsula, 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the coast of Djibouti, is Yemen. Djibouti's size is just over 23,000 km² with an estimated population of under 500,000. Its capital is the city of Djibouti.

The country's coastline stretches 403 kilometres (250 miles), with terrain consisting mainly of plateaux, plains and highlands. Djibouti has eight mountain ranges with peaks of over 1,000 metres (3,300 feet). The Mousa Ali range is considered the country's highest mountain range, with the tallest peak on the border with Ethiopia and Eritrea. It has an elevation of 2,028 metres (6,654 feet). The Grand Bara desert covers parts of southern Djibouti in the Arta, Ali Sabieh and Dikhil regions. The majority of it sits at a relatively low elevation, below 1,700 feet (520 metres). Most of Djibouti is part of the Ethiopian xeric grasslands and shrublands ecoregion. The exception is an eastern strip located along the Red Sea coast, which is part of the Eritrean coastal desert.

The country's flora and fauna live in a harsh landscape with forest accounting for less than one percent of the total area of the country. Wildlife is spread over three main regions, namely from the northern mountain region of the country to the volcanic plateaux in its southern and central part and culminating in the coastal region. Most species are found in the northern part of the country, in the ecosystem of the Day Forest National Park. It covers an area of 3.5 square kilometres (1 sq mi) of Juniperus procera forest, with many of the trees rising to 20 metres (66 feet) height. This forest area is the main habitat of the endangered and endemic Djibouti francolin (a bird), and another recently noted vertebrate, Platyceps afarensis (a colubrine snake). It also contains many species of woody and herbaceous plants, including boxwood and olive trees, which account for 60% of the total identified species in the country. According to the country profile related to biodiversity of wildlife in Djibouti, the nation contains more than 820 species of plants, 493 species of invertebrates, 455 species of fish, 40 species of reptiles, 3 species of amphibians, 360 species of birds and 66 species of mammals.



GNU Free Documentation License


Number of Species

Number of bird species: 400

As at July 2018


Number of endemics: 1

Ochre-breasted Francolin Pternistis ochropectus


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Useful Reading

Birds of the Horn of Africa

(Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Socotra) | by Nigel Redman, Terry Stevenson & John Fanshawe | Christopher Helm | 2011 | Paperback | 512 pages, 213 colour plates, 1000+ colour distribution maps, colour & b/w maps |

ISBN: 9781408157350

Buy this book from NHBS.com


African Bird Club


Despite its small size, approximately 23,000 km2, and very limited amount of ornithological study, Djibouti boasts an impressive bird list, with 361 species identified to February 2001. The key to this variety is Djibouti’s location at the mouth of the African Rift Valley, the narrowest point along the Red Sea (the Bab el Mandeb straits) and close to the Arabian peninsula. The country therefore supports an interesting mix of African and Middle Eastern species and is on a major migration flyway for birds breeding in Eastern Europe, Russia and Western Asia and wintering in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Djibouti Nature


The Association Djibouti Nature –Djibouti Nature (formerly known as Wildlife Protection Organization -WPO) is an independent, membership-based and not-for-profit grassroots organization, legally established in Djibouti. Djibouti Nature was set up in 1999 and thus the most and oldest experienced civil society organization working on nature conservation in the country.


Abbreviations Key

IBA Îles Musha & Maskali


Satellite View

The islands and particularly its satellite islets is known as one of the breeding areas which used by red-billed tropicbird, white-eyed gull, bridled tern, Eurasian spoon bill, osprey, Goliath, striated and western reef herons, chestnut –bellied sandgrouse and possibly some mangrove warblers i.e. clamorous reed warbler. The site is colonized by Indian House Crow and its presence has significant negative impacts on the breeding success of all species.

IBA Sept-Frères


Satellite View

The islands support important breeding Seabird species such as white-eyed and sooty gulls, swift and lesser crested, white-checked, bridled terns and red-billed tropicbird. Osprey and sooty falcon also breed in the islands.

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas


Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas identified for Djibouti consisting 11 sites and cover all the key habitat types in the country. Six (6) of them are by law declared as protected areas (gazetted as terrestrial and marine protected areas). IBAs include two (2) small forested areas, the only remaining woodlands in the country; four (4) wetlands: one (1) inland, two (2) marines and one (1) coastal sites), five (5) semi-arid and arid areas non-declared protected areas yet. Only seven (7) of them are assessed and have been included in the Important Bird Areas of Africa and Associated Islands.

NP Forêt du Day


Satellite View

Forêt Du Day is the home to 70% of the land based biological diversity and hosts a variety of rare, extremely arid-adapted globally threatened as Critically Endangered Djibouti Francolin, Leopard, Dragon and Livistona trees. Further it has survived for many centuries as biological diversity genetically reservoir and important natural resources to feed and contribute the community livelihood in a highly desert landscape in areas of the Djiboutian dry highlands.

Trip Reports

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2010 [09 September] - Nik Borrow - Djibouti & Somalia

PDF Report

…Warlords, pirates, chaos and lawlessness are all associated with Somalia. What isn’t always appreciated is that what was once British Somaliland has, since 1991, been the Republic of Somaliland, and this peaceful enclave doesn’t take kindly to being associated with the eastern half of the country’s descent into anarchy. The tiny country of Djibouti is also quite stable forming as it does an important port to the Horn of Africa at the narrowest part of the Red Sea and at the mouth of the Rift Valley…

2017 [04 April] - David Karr - La Forêt du Day

PDF Report

The primary purpose of the visit was to connect with country’s only endemic bird, the Djibouti Francolin, Pternistis ochropectus, listed as Critically Endangered and confined to two highly localized populations in small areas of montane habitat in the Forêt du Day and the Mabla Mountains at 700-1800m.* According to some surveys, the Francolin may number no more than approx. 600 pairs....

2017 [05 May] - David Karr

PDF Report

Annotated and illustrated list

Other Links

Djibouti Francolin Francolinus ochropectus


Species profile and conservation status etc…