The francolins are birds of the genus Francolinus. They are members of the pheasant family, Phasianidae.

Francolins are terrestrial (though not flightless) birds of the Old World that feed on insects, vegetable matter and seeds. Of the 41 extant species, 36 are exclusive to Africa.


Twelve of the species which occur in Africa are found in the subcontinental region of southern Africa; of these, seven occur in varying proportions within the political boundaries of Namibia. Six southern African francolins are considered endemic to the subcontinent, of which three are found in Namibia (Hartlaub's, Red-billed Francolin F. adspersus and Orange River Francolin F. levaillantoides ). The Cape Francolin Francolinus capensis, endemic to the Cape Province of South Africa occurs marginally in southern Namibia. A fossil francolin, Francolinus capeki, has been described from Late Pliocene deposits of Hungary.

Modern knowledge

Even very basic biological information of many of the 36 species of francolins found in Africa is lacking. In particular, the literature of this century indicates a distinct disparity in knowledge of endemic forms, especially those restricted to isolated and extreme habitats. Although visually inconspicuous, francolins are high evocative to man; like gamebirds elsewhere, they have attracted considerable attention from the days of the first European explorers into Africa; albeit primarily from a culinary perspective.


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