"By Derek Keats from Johannesburg, South Africa [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia. Multiple sub-species corresponding to their patchy and isolated distribution over four continents. The closest to Britain is the nominate porphyrio which is resident in E and S Spain, S France and Sardinia to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Other races occur in west central Africa, east Africa, India and south-east Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
One in Cumbria from 23rd to 28th October 1997 could not be assigned to race and this difficuty was thought to be due to interbreeding in captivity. It is widely kept and a captive origin was considered likely. A "Western" Swamphen was found at Minsmere RSPB reserve in Suffolk in July 2016 and spent the latter part of the summer into November, at Alkborough Flats in Lincolnshire. The species seems to be extending its range in France and the improbability of this being a wild bird is perhaps not as high as it at first seemed.