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Aenigmatolimnas marginalis (Striped crake) 

Gestreepte riethaan [Afrikaans]; Afrikaans porseleinhoen [Dutch]; Marouette rayée [French]; Graukehl-sumpfhuhn [German]; Franga-d'água-estriada [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: Gruiformes > Family: Rallidae

Aenigmatolimnas marginalis (Striped crake)   

Striped crake, along the Levhuvu River near Pafuri in the Kruger National Park. [photo Geoff Lockwood ©]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs patchily in West Africa and the area from Uganda, Kenya and eastern DRC south through Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and northern Mozambique to southern Africa. Here it is only common at Harare (Zimbabwe), while more scarce elsewhere in Zimbabwe, in northern Botswana, west-central Mozambique and northern Namibia. It generally prefers seasonally inundated grassland with marsh grasses, such as Golden timothy grass (Setaria sphacelata), Swamp cut grass (Leersia hexandra), Cat's tail grass (Sporobolus pyramidalis) and Weeping love-grass (Eragrostis curvula).

Distribution of Striped crake 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.  

Predators and parasites

Movements and migrations

Intra-African breeding migrant, breeding in southern Africa from December-May, probably heading in the non-breeding season to equatorial Africa.


Its diets consists of invertebrates, small fish and tadpoles, doing most of its foraging from late afternoon to dusk on muddy ground or water-lilies, probing and pecking in search of food. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Its breeding habits are complex, as it is thought to be mainly sequentially polyandrous, meaning that each female mates with multiple males. Once the egg is laid, the female takes no further part in the incubation of the eggs and the rearing of the brood.
  • The nest is a small saucer-shaped structure, built of dry grass and concealed in a grass tuft, especially Gongoni three-awn grass (Aristida junciformis), Swamp cut grass (Leersia hexandra), Golden timothy grass (Setaria sphacelata), Cat's-tail grass (Sporobolus pyrmidalus), Weeping love-grass (Eragrostis curvula) and Vasey grass (Paspalum urvillei).
  • Egg-laying season is from December-March.
  • It lays 3-5 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 17-18 days (recorded in captivity).
  • The chicks leave the nest with the male at about 4-5 days old, taking their first flight at about 46-53 days old. 


Status uncertain; it is thought to be threatened by human disturbance while breeding, wetland drainage, river damming and overgrazing.


  • 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.