BirdLife International factsheet for Taita Falcon
The Taita Falcon is a small raptor, with a range from South Africa and Zimbabwe through Malawi and Tanzania to Kenya (BirdLife International, 2020). It favours roost sites in high cliffs, and hunts over savannah and dry woodland (Kemp et al. 2020). The current population estimate is 750-1500 individuals, roughly equating to 500-1000 mature individuals (BirdLife International, 2020).
The threats to this falcon include the encroachment of rural development and agriculture on habitat surrounding the breeding cliffs, and the loss of territories to larger falcons facilitated by the conversion of woodland to open habitats (Jenkins et al. in prep.).
The Taita Falcon has been considered Vulnerable under criteria C2a(i); D1. However, recent reports on population declines may warrant a change in Red List category. We have therefore reassessed the Taita Falcon here against all the criteria.
Criterion A: The Taita Falcon is believed to be in decline, following reports of decreases in breeding territories in South Africa and Zimbabwe. The generation length for this species has been recalculated to 4.1 years (Bird et al., 2020)*, and therefore rates of decline for this species are calculated over a length of 12.3 years.
Recent data for South Africa reports a 30% decrease in breeding individuals between 2011 and 2019 (A. Jenkins in litt. 2012; K. Walker pers. comm. 2020), equating to a 42% reduction rate over 3 generations. This is consistent with its current Vulnerable Red List category, however a 2013 survey in Zimbabwe found no territories in an area that once contained 12 breeding individuals c.1994 (Jenkins et al. 2019). This suggests that the Taita Falcon may be experiencing a more rapid decline, which may warrant uplisting to a higher threat category. However, according to IUCN guidelines, data representing declines from a few subpopulations can only be projected onto the rest of the range if those subpopulations were by far the largest subpopulation three generations ago, or if it can be assumed that all the other subpopulations are declining at the same rate (IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee, 2019).
The subpopulation structure of the Taita Falcon is poorly understood, and we are lacking trend data for populations in Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania. As a result, we cannot be certain that the declines recorded here are representative of the situation across its range. Should information arise demonstrating similar rates of decline in other countries of occurrence, this species may warrant uplisting to Endangered. We therefore seek information on population structures across its range, and information on trends in Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania. What are the local population sizes? If it is declining, what is the rate of decline, and what is causing the decline?
Criterion B: The Extent of Occurrence (EOO) for this species is still believed to be 2,690,000 km² (BirdLife International, 2020), which is too large to be considered threatened under this criterion. Taita Falcon would therefore be considered Least Concern under Criterion B.
Criterion C: The global population size estimate for this species remains at 500-1000 mature individuals (BirdLife International, 2020), which meets the threshold for classification as Endangered under this criterion (<2500 mature individuals). To fully qualify for assessment under criterion C, other requirements must be met. A continuing decline can be estimated from the continuing decrease in breeding territories. The population size is not believed to undergo extreme fluctuations. The subpopulation structure for this species is not fully understood, however as the population size is estimated to be <1000 mature individuals, we can assume that there are <1000 mature individuals in each subpopulation. Taita Falcon may therefore be considered Vulnerable under this criterion. However, new information on population structure may warrant a change in Red List category under this criterion. We therefore seek information on subpopulation structure: What is the number of subpopulations? How many individuals are in each subpopulation?
Criterion D: The global population size estimate of Taita Falcon remains at 500-1000 mature individuals. This reaches the threshold for Vulnerable (<1000 mature individuals). This species can therefore be considered Vulnerable under Criterion D1.
Criterion E: To the best of our knowledge, no quantitative analysis has been carried out for this species, so Taita Falcon cannot be assessed with this criterion.
In order to assess the Red List status of Taita Falcon, we therefore ask for recent information on the population size and subpopulation structure.
Please note that this topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, rather a discussion of the species’ Red List status. Therefore, please make sure your comments are relevant to the species’ Red List status and the information requested. By submitting a comment, you confirm that you agree to the Comment Policy.
*Bird generation lengths are estimated using the methodology of Bird et al. (2020), as applied to parameter values updated for use in each IUCN Red List for birds reassessment cycle. Values used for the current assessment are available on request. We encourage people to contact us with additional or improved values for the following parameters; adult survival (true survival accounting for dispersal derived from an apparently stable population); mean age at first breeding; and maximum longevity (i.e. the biological maximum, hence values from captive individuals are acceptable).
An information booklet on the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here and the Red List Criteria Summary Sheet can be downloaded here. Detailed guidance on IUCN Red List terms and definitions and the application of the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here.
Bird, J.P., Martin, R., Akçakaya, H.R., Gilroy, J., Burfield, I.J., Garnett, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Şekercioğlu, Ç.H. and Butchart, S.H.M. (2020), Generation lengths of the world’s birds and their implications for extinction risk. Conservation Biology online first view.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Falco fasciinucha. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/04/2020
IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee, 2019. Guidelines for Using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 14. Prepared by the Standards and Petitions Committee. Downloadable from http://www.iucnredlist.org/documents/RedListGuidelines.pdf.
Kemp, A.C., Kirwan, G.M. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Taita Falcon (Falco fasciinucha). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53248 on 20 April 2020)