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Vanellus senegallus (African wattled lapwing, Wattled plover) 

Lelkiewiet [Afrikaans]; Hurekure (generic name for lapwing) [Shona]; Nghelekele [Tsonga]; Lelkievit [Dutch]; Vanneau du Sénégal [French]; Senegalkiebitz [German]; Abibe-carunculado [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Charadriiformes > Family: Charadriidae > Genus: Vanellus

Vanellus senegallus (African wattled lapwing, Wattled plover)  Vanellus senegallus (African wattled lapwing, Wattled plover) 
African wattled lapwing. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©] African wattled lapwing, Kyalami, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across sub-Saharan Africa; in southern Africa it is fairly common in Zimbabwe, northern Botswana and Namibia (including the Caprivi Strip), north-eastern South Africa, Swaziland and central and southern Mozambique. It generally prefers waterlogged grassland at streams, seeps edges of marshes and flood plains, as well as exposed areas along the edges of lakes and pans, burnt grassland and cultivated land.

Distribution of African wattled lapwing in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

Resident while breeding, but nomadic during the rainy season.


It mainly eats insects, doing most of its foraging by walking slowly while scanning the ground for prey to catch. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, with the male defending its territory vigorously against intruders (mainly other African wattled lapwings) by striking them with its wings. Displays and fights are most intense at the beginning of the breeding season, as later males only call and use threat postures to defend their territory.
  • The nest (see image below) is a shallow depression in the ground, several of which are created by the male before the female chooses one to be lined thickly with grass stems, roots, pebbles and dry dung. It is typically placed on bare ground in short or burnt grassland, or occasionally small islands in marshy areas.
Vanellus senegallus (African wattled lapwing, Wattled plover)  

African wattled plover nest with eggs, Sericea, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from July-December, peaking from September-October.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 28-32 days, often mobbing predators which come to close.
  • The chicks leave the nest within 24 hours, and are always tended by at least one adult, fledging at about 40 days old but only leaving the family group at the start of the following breeding season.


Not threatened, in fact it may have benefited from the modification of habitats by humans.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.