The Animal Demography Unit (formerly the Avian Demography Unit), or ADU as it is mostly known in the vernacular, is a research unit of the University of Cape Town. Initially it was built on the nucleus of the South African Bird Ringing Unit (SAFRING) and the Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP). The ADU was established in December 1991 within the Department of Statistical Sciences at the University of Cape Town. Over the years, the ADU has grown far beyond its starting point. In January 2008 the ADU was formally transferred to the Deparment of Zoology.
The concept on which the ADU is based can be traced back to 1983, when a workshop was held in Johannesburg on the establishment of a Bird Populations Data Bank for South Africa. This workshop was held in conjunction with a "Birds and Man" symposium which had been organised by the Southern African Ornithological Society (now BirdLife South Africa).
The ADU has continued to be closely associated with BirdLife South Africa. and has a formal partnership relationship with that organization, with the objective of fostering the development of further ornithological projects. This close association is appropriate because much of the research of the ADU continues to focus on large scale demographic studies in which participation by amateurs is a vital element.
Over the past years, the ADU has expanded the range of projects for which it is responsible. This website provides information on them, and the people who undertake them.
The mission of the Avian Demography Unit is to contribute to the understanding of animal populations, especially population dynamics, and thus provide input to their conservation. We achieve this through mass participation projects, long-term monitoring, innovative statistical modelling and population-level interpretation of results. The emphasis is on the curation, analysis, publication and dissemination of data.