Archived: How many subspecies have gone extinct in Africa?

Although BirdLife International does not yet have the capacity to assess global extinction risk at the subspecies level, we are currently working on a project to produce a synthesis of all bird taxa, at the species and subspecies level, that are known or thought to have gone extinct since 1500. This is the first time that subspecies extinctions have been systematically documented and analysed, and we hope that the results will provide new insights to support global efforts (including through the BirdLife Partnership) to conserve the world’s threatened birds.

Subspecies extinctions are generally not well documented, and so we would greatly appreciate any information and updates (including on recent surveys or rediscoveries) to support this effort. Attached is a spreadsheet of all African subspecies that we think likely to be extinct (for a list of Extinct and Possibly Extinct species, see here) Any feedback on the following would be exceedingly helpful:

  1. Is the date of extinction recorded appropriate? Where possible we have used the midpoint of the last definite record and the first unsuccessful survey that we are aware of. For other taxa we have had to follow other authors’ comments such as  ‘went extinct around 1910’. If you have any further information on records or surveys, or have a better estimate of extinction date than that given, this would be very helpful.
  2. For some taxa there is some uncertainty over whether they may still survive or have gone extinct (defined by IUCN as applying to taxa for which there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died, because adequate surveys have been undertaken in all known or likely habitat throughout the historic range). Following the approach taken by BirdLife and IUCN for species, we have therefore tagged some subspecies as ‘possibly extinct’ (PE) – likely to have gone extinct but for which confirmation is required, because, for example, surveys of its range have been inadequate, the taxon is particularly difficult to detect or identify, there have been recent unconfirmed reports, and/or there remains sufficient threat-free habitat where it could persist. Such taxa remain priorities for further searches. We would appreciate any input on whether subspecies in the attached list are appropriately classified as EX or PE, or indeed, whether any should be dropped from the list because they are likely (or have recently been confirmed) to survive.
  3. Are there any additional subspecies from the region that you think are likely to be extinct but which we have omitted? We would be extremely grateful to hear about them including, if possible, any details on the likely date of extinction, surveys that have been carried out, and drivers of extinction.

Click on the link below to download a list of the subspecies being reviewed:

African subspecies likely to be extinct

Please post your comments here under the main forum topic.

Any help you can provide will be much appreciated and of course acknowledged as appropriate.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Nyil Khwaja, Global Species Programme Assistant
Stuart Butchart, Global Research and Indicators Coordinator

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2 Responses to Archived: How many subspecies have gone extinct in Africa?

  1. Nyil Khwaja says:

    Northern white-winged apalis (Apalis chariessa chariessa) added as advised by Don Turner.

  2. Melanie Nayyal says:

    The IOC has given the extinct Marianne white-eye (also known as Seychelles Chestnut-sided White-eye or Seychelles Yellow White-eye) species rank (Zosterops semiflavus, see here According to the 2006 study ”Immigration, species radiation and extinction in a highly diverse songbird lineage: white-eyes on Indian Ocean islands” by Ben Warren (see here:;jsessionid=69C290507ECAA5D2B6F4168CAD318A63.d03t02) the Marianne white-eye is more closely related to the Karthala white-eye and the white-eyes from the Mascarenes than to the Mayotte white-eye. Wouldn’t it be possible to write an assessment for this taxon and recognize the Marianne white-eye as full species?

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