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Neotis ludwigii (Ludwig's bustard) 

Ludwigse pou [Afrikaans]; Iseme (generic term for bustard) [Xhosa]; iSeme (generic term for bustard) [Zulu]; Khupa (generic term for bustard) [South Sotho]; Ludwig-trap [Dutch]; Outarde de Ludwig [French]; Ludwigstrappe [German]; Abetarda de Ludwig [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: Otitidae

Neotis ludwigii (Ludwig's bustard)  Neotis ludwigii (Ludwig's bustard) 

Ludwig's bustard. [photo Johann du Preez ]

Ludwig's bustard, South Africa. [photo Paul Zaayman ]

Distribution and habitat

Near-endemic to southern Africa, occurring from south-western Angola south through western and southern Namibia to the Northern Cape and adjacent provinces. It generally prefers the semi-arid shrublands of the Karoo, Namib Desert and Nama Karoo, occasionally visiting cultivated land and the southern Kalahari.

Distribution of Ludwig's bustard 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

Nomad and partial migrant, as it is most common in the arid Namib Desert and Karoo in winter (May-October), while mainly occurring in the east of its distribution in summer (November-April)


Mainly eats arthropods, small vertebrates and plant matter, doing most of its foraging by walking slowly and pecking the ground in search of food. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Polygynous, with each male defending a small territory from which he displays to passing females, often mating with several of them in a single breeding season. Most displaying is done in the early morning and at dusk, as it needs to forage in the late morning and afternoon.
  • The nest is a shallow scrape in the ground, sometimes ringed by pebbles, typically placed close to the male's display site among concealing vegetation.
  • Egg-laying season is from February-May in Namibia, September-February in the Nama Karoo and from July-September in the Karoo and Bushmanland.
  • It lays 1-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female.
  • The chicks are cared for by the female only, who sometimes lays flat with them to avoid detection by predators.


Vulnerable in South Africa, as it is frequently killed by man-made traps and collisions with overhead lines.


  • 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.