Archived 2017 topics: New Guinea Flightless Rail (Megacrex inepta): downlist to Least Concern?

BirdLife Species factsheet for New Guinea Flightless Rail:


New Guinea Flightless Rail is endemic to the island of New Guinea occurring in lowland and swamp forest, mangroves, and wet thickets in both Papua New Guinea and West Papua, Indonesia. It is currently considered Near Threatened under criterion C1 because it was thought that it could have a moderately small population that could be declining (BirdLife International 2017). The species is poorly-known, with few records but it may be locally common, especially in areas of sago harvesting (Gregory 1996, Taylor 1998, I. Woxvold pers. comm. 2016 per G. Dutson in litt. 2016). Therefore, while the population is unknown it is possible that it is larger than suspected.

The current population trend is also uncertain for this species. Its flightlessness may be thought to make it more susceptible to terrestrial predators, but it seems able to fight off dogs and may climb into trees to escape from such predators (Ripley 1964, Coates 1985). Pigs may also pose a threat, and it may be targeted by human hunters, but human population densities are very low within its range so the impact of this may in fact be quite low (G. Dutson in litt. 2016). Lowland forest is being cleared within its range, but this may in fact be only at a slow rate with 1.3% of forest lost plus 2.9% logged in the mainland coastal provinces of Papua New Guinea between 2002 and 2014 (Bryan and Shearman 2015). Therefore, the rate of decline would not approach the threshold for Vulnerable.

Given that the population may be larger than previously suspected, and the rate of decline may be actually quite low, the New Guinea Flightless Rail likely does not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under criterion C1, and does not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under any other criterion. Therefore, it is proposed that this species be downlisted to Least Concern.

We welcome any further information and comments regarding this proposed downlisting.



BirdLife International. 2017. Species factsheet: Megacrex inepta. Downloaded from on 27/03/2017.

Bryan, J. E.; Shearman, P. L. (Eds). 2015. The State of the Forests of Papua New Guinea 2014: Measuring change over the period 2002-2014. University of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby.

Coates, B. J. 1985. The birds of Papua New Guinea, 1: non-passerines. Dove, Alderley, Australia.

Gregory, P. 1996. The New Guinea Flightless Rail (Megacrex inepta) in Gulf Province. Muruk 8(1): 38-39.

Ripley, S. D. 1964. A systematic and ecological study of birds of New Guinea. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 19: 1-87.

Taylor, B. 1998. Rails: a guide to the rails, crakes, gallinules and coots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

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One Response to Archived 2017 topics: New Guinea Flightless Rail (Megacrex inepta): downlist to Least Concern?

  1. Hannah Wheatley (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2017 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classifications outlined in the initial forum discussion.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 4 August, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from those in the initial proposal.

    The final 2017 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN

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