Archived 2011-2012 topics: Monteiro’s Bush-shrike (Malaconotus monteiri): list as Near Threatened?

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

BirdLife species factsheet for Monteiro’s Bush-shrike

Monteiro’s Bush-shrike Malaconotus monteiri is currently listed as Data Deficient because there has previously been insufficient information available to assess its status against the IUCN criteria.

The species was known only from a small number of records from a few sites in the escarpment zone of Angola and from Mt Cameroon and Mt Kupe in Cameroon. However, surveys of the Angolan escarpment in 2005 found the species to be more widespread than previously thought, being present from the Dande River south to Gungo (Mills and Dean 2007, Mills 2010). The species’s listing as Data Deficient is partly a result of problems in differentiating this species from the very similar Grey-headed Bush-shrike M. blanchoti (Mills 2010). For example, only one of 14 specimens listed as M. monteiri in the American Museum of Natural History database was found to be correctly identified, with others actually belonging to M. blanchoti (T. Trombone and P. Sweet per Mills 2010). The locations of verified specimens range from the Dande River (probably near Caxito) in the north, and Canjala (Egito) in the south (Mills and Dean 2007, Mills 2010), covering a linear distance of c.400 km (Mills 2010). Records from Mt Moco, Quipeio and Chitau are thought to relate to M. blanchoti and the possibility of the continued presence of M. monteiri in Cameroon requires verification (Mills 2010 and references therein).

During surveys of the Angolan escarpment in 2005, the species was observed at eight out of 13 sites visited (Mills 2010). It occurs in drier forest above and below the main scarp, but not in the moister forest on the main scarp, and is locally fairly common (Mills 2010). Remapping of the species’s range with reference to the information provided by Mills (2010) has resulted in an estimated Extent of Occurrence (EOO) of c.25,400 km2. This estimate approaches the range size threshold for Vulnerable under criterion B1, the species has been recorded from more than 10 locations and there is no evidence that its habitat is severely fragmented (more than 50% in patches too small to support viable populations), suggesting that it qualifies as Near Threatened. Habitat loss through clearance for subsistence agriculture is thought to be on-going (W. R. J. Dean in litt. 1999), thus there are considered to be continuing declines in the area, extent and/or quality of habitat.

Updated BirdLife range map for Monteiro's Bush-shrike (click on map to see larger version)

Comments are invited on the proposal to list this species as Near Threatened under criterion B1a+b(iii), and further information is requested on the number of locations, level of habitat fragmentation (percentage in patches too small to support viable populations), habitat trends and severity of threats.


Mills, M. S. L. (2010) Angola’s central scarp forests: patterns of bird diversity and conservation threats. Biodiversity Conservation 19: 1883-1903.

Mills, M. S. L. and Dean, W. R. J. (2007) Notes on Angolan birds: new country records, range extensions and taxonomic questions. Ostrich 78: 55-63.

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4 Responses to Archived 2011-2012 topics: Monteiro’s Bush-shrike (Malaconotus monteiri): list as Near Threatened?

  1. Fabio Olmos says:

    During a visit to the Angola Scarp area with Michael Mills in 2008 we found large areas of overgrown shade coffee plantations and second-growth in Kumbira Forest and around Seles – 2 important sites for Scarp endemics – were being converted into manioc, banana and maize plots by subsistence farmers. Michael has been there several times since and can update on the situation but my feeling is habitat for this species, and other Scarp endemics such as Gabela Bush-Shrike, is being lost at a fast rate as more people are moving back to the rural areas. A proper estimate of the actual forest cover and rates of loss using remote sensing would be welcome.

  2. I fully agree with Near Threatened status for this species. I find this species to be quite tolerant of a different range of habitats along the Angolan scarp, from moist secondary growth and coffe plantations, to the extensive drier forests and thickets on the base of the scarp, but also along riverine forests “muxitos” on gthe even drier coastal plain.
    The plasticity and fairly wide distribution of this species might provide some resistance to ongoing deforestation on the scarp forests.

  3. Michael Mills says:

    The situation with Monteiro’s Bushshrike is similar to that with Gabela Bushshrike. During a month conducting bird surveys (point counts) at Kumbira forest during September/October 2010, I recorded Monteiro’s Bushshrike within 50 m of only two of just over 200 sample points, and this was with playback of vocalisations to maximise detectability! I think we have overestimated the local abundances of the species. The calls could be heard from > 350 m away. Given that they are such vocal birds, one can walk a distance of more than 700 m and hear the same birds, continually. This has given us an overinflated estimate of their local abundance. While it does have a wider range than Gabela Bushshrike, most of its habitats are disappearing alarmingly quickly, and given that there are so few birds actually at Kumbira, thought to be the stronghold for this species, there may be fewer birds than would be estimated from its EOO. Further to this, the prospects of actually getting some of its habitat protected within the next five years are very uncertain. My feeling is that it would certainly qualify as at least Vulnerable if we had a proper population estimate.

  4. Although I have never found it to be common, and unlike the Gabela bushshrike, I have recorded it in a wider range of habitat, like in dry woodlands and thickets in Quiçama NP, and in riverine forest on the coastal plain of Quiçama and as far inland as Dondo. I suspect this species is more reslient to the scarp deforestation compared to Gabela bush shrike…

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