The African Arachnida Database (AFRAD) is an information system on the Arachnida of the Afrotropical Region - an umbrella project dedicated to the unification and enhancement of biosystematic research on arachnids in Africa and adjacent islands. It is committed to help conserve the biological diversity of African arachnids through the improvement of scientific knowledge. Participation is based on free association and collaboration and gives specialists of the various arachnid groups the opportunity to manage and co-ordinate their own field of expertise while receiving full credit for their inputs.

Arachnids are a group of eight-legged animals and second only to insects in abundance and diversity among the terrestrial animals. The class Arachnida comprises 12 living and 5 extinct orders of which eleven occur in the Afrotropical Region. They are the ACARI (mites and ticks), AMBLYPYGI (whip spiders), ARANEAE (spiders), OPILIONES (harvestmen), PALPIGRADI (micro whip-scorpion), PSEUDOSCORPIONES (false scorpions), RICINULEI, SCHIZOMIDA, SCORPIONES (scorpions) and the SOLIFUGAE (wind spiders) and UROPYGI.

AFRAD was initiated in 1997 by ARC-Plant Protection Research Institute, Pretoria, South Africa and the Koninklijk Museum voor Midden-Afrika at Tervuren, Belgium.

On completion AFRAD will contain the following:

  • Information on all the Arachnida orders found in the Afrotropical Region

  • Illustrated keys to families, subfamilies, genera and species

  • Description of families, subfamilies and genera

  • Database of original species descriptions and drawings

  • Database of all the literature on Afrotropical arachnids

  • Checklists of all the taxa

  • Checklists of species distribution in all the Afrotropical countries

  • Photo galleries of all the taxa



AFRAD: Detailed information on all the SPIDER AND SCORPION FAMILIES, GENERA AND SPECIES of the Afrotropical Region, with keys to subfamilies, genera and species (if available) and information on their behaviour, distribution, research undertaken, list of genera and species now available as a FACT SHEET richly illustrated with drawings and photographs.


Co-ordinators :
A.S. Dippenaar-Schoeman, e-mail: dippenaara
R. Jocqué, e-mail: