The scarce blue swallows migrate from the highlands of Malawi, Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania, and if South Africans are lucky, they grace KwaZulu-Natal and the town of Kaapsehoop in Mpumalanga. These species have adapted to regions experiencing high rainfall and misty highlands. The decline in this species in South Africa is highly due to the loss of suitable habitat.
In April 2012, the progaramme manager of the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Threatened Grassland Species Programme, Ian Little, discussed the future of the species. ?The blue swallow will be completely extinct in SA within the next decade if radical intervention does not take place,? he said. He added that the loss of suitable habitat due to the increase of the forestry industry is the primary cause of the low numbers of the endangered bird.
According to a report by the Endangered Wildlife Trust in 2012, the South African Blue Swallow exists in populations of a total of 38 breeding pairs, located mainly in KwaZulu-Natal with a few in Mpumalanga.
A national blue swallow count which took place on 13 - 14 November 2004 found a total of 134 adult birds. This number is an increase of 40 birds from the count in 2003. The birds were all found in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, and for the second year no birds were seen in Limpopo.
The majority of the swallows breed in KwaZulu-Natal, with most birds being found in the Richmond, Donnybrook and Ixopo area. A total of 107 birds were seen in the province. The remaining 27 birds were found in Mpumalanga, in the Graskop and Sabie areas. Five chicks were seen at two known nests during the count. A pair is known to be breeding in the Kaapsehoop area, but no birds were counted during the official census.
The birds, considered to be critically endangered in South Africa and vulnerable worldwide, come to South Africa in September to breed before returning to more northerly parts of Africa in April.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust's Blue Swallow Working Group carried out the count, which was sponsored by Sappi, the World Wide Fund for Nature SA, The Green Trust and Rand Merchant Bank. Individual sponsors who donated prizes include Big Sky Fishing and Outdoor (Sabie), Soul Creations (Kaapsehoop), Design for Africa and Amble Inn.