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Carmine Bee-eaters (Merops nubicus & M. nubicoides) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Population Status

Global population estimate for Northern and Southern Carmine Bee-eaters

  • 1980s: rough estimate of 5 million birds (two species combined) (Fry 1984)

Regional population estimates

  • 1990s in Zimbabwe (Southern Carmine Bee-eater)
    • c. 37,500 (Fry 2001)

Conservation Status

No bee-eater species currently of serious conservation concern (Fry 2001)

  • Range of both species extremely large
    • Not considered vulnerable because of this size (needs to be less than 20,000 km sq to be considered Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List)
  • Colonies in some regions increasingly concentrated in protected areas
    • National parks and the Zambezi River Valley through portions of Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique are important areas for these birds
  • Population declines in some areas not sufficient to classify as vulnerable
    • Decline does not meet the IUCN thresholds for Vulnerable due to population size guidelines
      • IUCN guidelines may not reflect actual situation for migratory birds such as these Bee-eaters

IUCN Status

  • Northern Carmine Bee-eater, M. nubicus
    • Least Concern (2016 assessment) (Birdlife International 2016a)
    • Past assessments
      • 2004-2012: Least Concern
      • 1988-2000: Lower Risk/least concern
  • Southern Carmine Bee-eater, M. nubicoides
    • Least Concern (2016 assessment) (Birdlife International 2016b)
    • Past assessments
      • 2004-2012: Least Concern
      • 1988-2000: Lower Risk/least concern

CITES Status

  • Not listed

Threats to Survival

Potential threats

  • Intensified land/water use by humans
    • Increasing use of insecticides (e.g., to control tsetse flies)
  • Habitat degradation
    • Silting of rivers due to poor land management practices and dam construction (Fry 2001)
    • Changes in water levels due to dams, erosion of cliffs, and speedboat use (del Hoyo et al. 2018)
  • Persecution by humans
  • Exploited for food (del Hoyo et al. 2018)
    • Sometimes to local extinction
  • Starvation, due to insect scarcity after severe dry season (del Hoyo et al. 2018)

Southern Carmine Bee-eater

Southern carmine bee-eater

Southern carmine bee-eater (Merops nubicoides) in northwestern Botswana.

Image credit: © Tarique Sani from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Page Citations

Fry (2001)
IUCN (2008)

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