Archived 2011-2012 topics: Madagascar Jacana (Actophilornis albinucha): request for information

Initial deadline for comments: 31 January 2012 [note that this has been moved back by about two months].

BirdLife species factsheet for Madagascar Jacana

Madagascar Jacana Actophilornis albinucha is endemic to Madagascar and a resident of wetlands with floating vegetation and slow-moving rivers from sea-level to c.750 m (Langrand 1990). It has been described as common or abundant in western and northern Madagascar, but is rare in the east of the island (Langrand 1990, Morris and Hawkins 1998). It is listed as being of Least Concern on the basis that it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria.

This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence of less than 20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be small, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be at least 10% over ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure).

It has recently been noted that the species is becoming more difficult to find during birding tours, and that it could be in rapid decline owing to the on-going destruction of wetlands (P. Morris in litt. 2010). Aquatic habitats in Madagascar are threatened by degradation (Ramanampamonjy 1995) and conversion to rice cultivation, which also results in a reduction in the extent of habitat fringed by water-lilies (Rabenandrasana and Sama 2006).

With this information in mind, further details are requested on the severity of threats and likely population trend. Evidence suggesting a rate of decline approaching 30% (typically 20-29%) over three generations, estimated by BirdLife to be c.14 years for this species, would make it eligible for uplisting to Near Threatened. It would qualify as Vulnerable if there were evidence of a decline of at least 30% over 14 years, and as Endangered if the decline appeared to be at least 50% over 14 years.


Langrand, O. (1990) Guide to the birds of Madagascar. New Haven, USA: Yale University Press.

Morris, P. and Hawkins, F. (1998) Birds of Madagascar: a photographic guide. Robertsbridge, UK: Pica Press.

Rabenandrasana, M. and Sama, Z. (2006) The population size, distribution and habitat of the Sakalava Rail in the western Malagasy wetlands. J. Ornithol. 147: 234.

Ramanampamonjy, J. R. (1995) Rencontre inattendue avec le Râle d’Olivier (Amaurornis olivieri) au Lac Bemamba. Work. Group. Birds Madag. Reg. Newsl. 5: 5-7.

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3 Responses to Archived 2011-2012 topics: Madagascar Jacana (Actophilornis albinucha): request for information

  1. This species was categorised as ‘common’ (= weekly sightings between June-Oct 1999) in the following report: Tingay, R. & Gilbert, M. (1999). Annotated list of the birds of Lacs Soamalipo, Befotaka & Ankerika and surrounding Tsimembo Forest, Western Madagascar. Working Group on Birds in the Madagascar Region Newsletter 9 (1): 26-30.

  2. Glyn Young says:

    Like all waterbirds in Madagascar the jacana is hunted wherever possible. There are only likely to be numbers of jacana in protected areas or where there are very few people. Species like jacana, coot, rails, openbill etc can survive alongside people in modified habitats such as rice fields etc but are always highly vulnerable. I think the local coot is on the verge of extinction in Madagascar with white-backed duck, reed cormorant, anhinga and others. The jacana is undoubtedly a rare and declining bird.

  3. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments were received from Lily-Arison Réné de Roland on 31 January 2012:

    Concerning the Madagascar Jacana Actophilornis albinucha, this species became rare in all wetland which I visited. This decrease of its population number must be due to the change of wetland habitat characteristics and the threat causing by hunting of the local population (using a knot around the ricefield). So this species must be considered as threatened species.

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