No one quite knows the full extent of the African Rail’s distribution in Southern Africa.
Certainly, we know it favours dense habitat and reedbeds associated with perennial and semi-perennial wetlands and marshes with a distribution preference for the wetter east of the country at varying altitudes above sea level.
Most often its presence is disclosed by its rapidly descending territorial contact call described as a rapid ‘trilling’ or ‘squealing’ with the notes running together at first before spacing out into single notes often triggering a response by other individuals within hearing range.
The African Rail is mainly crepuscular, emerging in fading light to forage along the edges of dense vegetation. With patience and an understanding of its behaviour, the observer may be rewarded with an open view of this strikingly attractive rail, the only one of its kind found in our sub-region.