Archived 2017 topics: Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush (Garrulax mitratus): uplist to Near Threatened?

Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush (Garrulax mitratus) is currently considered Least Concern, as it has not been thought to approach any of the thresholds for listing as Vulnerable; the Extent of Occurrence is considerably in excess of 20,000 km2, and while the global population is presently unknown it is considered to be in excess of the thresholds for consideration under Criterion C (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals). The species has been characterised as common (Collar and Robson 2017). However, due to ongoing habitat destruction and fragmentation the population was suspected to be in decline.

Recent information on the extent and scope of trapping for the cagebird trade in Indonesia (and Sumatra in particular) prompted a revision of the status of numerous Sumatran species for the 2016 Red List (see the topics listed here). The present species was not included due to a lack of specific information on the impact of trapping. However, it has recently been identified as being highly sensitive to trapping (Harris et al. 2016). Field surveys carried out in montane forests in northern Sumatra failed to find the species where trappers indicate that it previously occurred (Harris et al. 2016), and while it is still observed at scattered sites within Sumatra it is suspected of having undergone a moderately rapid to rapid decline in Sumatra within the most recent three generations (c.14 years). Trends in the Peninsular Malaysia population are unquantified; although the rate of forest loss and degradation is suspected of driving at best slow declines, the extent and impact of any trapping in areas here is likely to be low as it principally occurs in protected areas within the country.

Therefore there appears to be evidence that the species has undergone significant declines in Sumatra within the most recent three-generation period and that these declines are likely to be on-going. Overall, the rate of decline of the global population is not considered likely to exceed 30% within a three-generation period, but the rapid decline in Sumatra is sufficient to suspect a decline approaching this threshold. The proposal is that Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush be uplisted to Near Threatened as it approaches the threshold for listing as Vulnerable under criteria A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd.

Comments, observations and further information welcome.



Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2017). Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush (Garrulax mitratus). 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 on 31 May 2017).

Harris, J.B.C., Tingley, M.W., Hua, F., Yong, D.L., Adeney, M.J., Lee, T.M.,  Marthy, W., Prawiradilaga, D.M., Sekercioglu, C.H., Suyadi, Winarni, N. and Wilcove, D.S. 2016. Measuring the impact of the pet trade on Indonesian birds. Conservation Biology DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12729.

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4 Responses to Archived 2017 topics: Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush (Garrulax mitratus): uplist to Near Threatened?

  1. Ding Li Yong says:

    The Peninsular Malaysia-Thailand population seems stable. It is still one of the commonest birds in mountains in Malaysia at the right elevation. Much of its elevation band remains little affected by logging due to prioritisation of Malaysia’s Central Forest Spine for large mammal conservation. Climate change related shifts may be a problem in the future. The situation in Sumatra is very different though – it is definitely not a common bird – one flock encountered in Kerinci after 3 days of field work for example.

  2. Andrew Owen says:

    I cannot offer an informed opinion on the wild status of this species in Sumatra, having only visited Sumatra once. During this visit in March 2016, three birds were seen in montane forest on Gunung Sinabung.
    This species is heavily traded and is the commonest Indonesian laughingthrush to be traded in Pramuka bird market in Jakarta, where 80 – 100 individuals were seen during visits in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
    This may indicate that harvesting of this species from the wild is not sustainable and populations may soon crash, as has been seen in other laughingthrushes.

  3. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2017 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classification 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.

  4. Serene Chng says:

    I would like to support Andrew Owen’s comment about this species commonly seen in trade – our inventories in bird markets found 106 Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush for sale in the three largest Jakarta markets, Malang and Yogjakarta (Shepherd et al., 2016). A further 6 were observed for sale in Bandung, and a further 19 observed in Palembang, Jambi, Pekanbaru and Medan markets. This indicates the ubiquity of this species in trade, and that birds trapped in Sumatra are being transported to Java for sale. Unfortunately, am unable to contribute further information on wild populations on Sumatra.

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