Archived 2021 topic: Spotted Ground-thrush (Geokichla guttata): Revise global status?

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6 Responses to Archived 2021 topic: Spotted Ground-thrush (Geokichla guttata): Revise global status?

  1. Colin Jackson says:

    SGT on the Kenyan coast has become an very rare species to find. Until the mid-90s it was a relatively common bird to find in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Gede Ruins national monument forest on the north Kenya coast. Guides at the Ruins spoke of having them hopping around the forest edge near the museum offices. By the late 90’s you had to look hard to find them and today there have been no records in Gede Ruins for c.10 years and just a single bird reported from Arabuko-Sokoke Forest annually for the past 3-4 years by the forest guides who are birding in the forest several times per week.

    The African Bird Atlas Project shows just the one square (in ASF) where the species has been recorded since 2013 with the minimum possible reporting rate of 0.1-2.5%. (

    Since Bennun carried out his studies in Gede Ruins (Bennun, L A. ‘Ringing and Recapture of Spotted Ground Thrushes Turdus fischeri fischeri at Gede, Kenya Coast: Indications of Site Fidelity and Population Size Stability’. Scopus 11 (1987): 1–5.), there has been an almost total crash of this population of Spotted Ground Thrush and there is a high likelihood of this subpopulation being on the brink of extinction from the existing evidence.

    I cannot comment on other subpopulations, but from our perspective, to downgrade this species will mean ignoring this drastic decline in population and could mean making it more difficult to raise its profile for its habitats to be protected.

  2. Jasson John says:

    Unfortunately, we have not monitoring programme for Spotted Ground Thrush in Tanzania. However, unpublished reports carried out recently along the migrating route, namely Pugu forest reserve, Kazimzumbwi Forest reserve, Ruvu South forest reserve, Zaraninge forest (within Saadani National Park), and forests in Rondo (breeding ground), Chitoa and other forests in Lindi, indicates that the species has became very rare, and no more than 2 individuals have been seen in each of these surveys in the last 10 years.

    I personally was in Ruvu South and Pugu forest reserves for a period of over 3 weeks between April and May, 2021, where I mist netted and conducted census points. This was a perfect timing for its passage, and we had targeted this species together with Sokoke Pipit. Only one SGT was seen during census point in all our stay in the forest.

    Additionally, many of the coastal habitats have been degraded, as human population grows, only patch of forests are left and these forests are not in good forests. The demand of forest resources to support the growing human population along the cost is very high. There good reports from the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group in Tanzania for Pugu, Kazimzumbwi and Ruvu south indicating habitat change and they are found online; Ruvu South, ( For Pugu and Kazimzumbwi (–FINAL.pdf). Although Pugu and Kazimzumbwi forests have now been designated as a Nature Reserve, habitats haven’t improved and will take time to recover.

    I see no reasons to downgrade this species. I cant comment on other subspecies, but I suppose habitats have not improved.

  3. Jasson John says:

    Unfortunately we do not have a long term monitoring of the SGT in Tanzania. However, existing recent unpublished reports from both the breeding ground in southern Tanzania, and the staging areas indicate that the species is becoming very rare. Only one or two birds are recorded in each of these surveys, and sometimes none is found. The areas where recent visits for ornithological studies include, Pugu Forest Reserve, Kazimzumbwi Forest reserve, Ruvu South and Rondo Nature Reserve (southern Tanzania). Some of these studies have investigated the status of the habitats. I include here links for biodiversity assessments done by Tanzania Forest Conservation Group in Pugu, Kazimzumbwi and Ruvu south forest reserves. Birds were among the targeted taxonomic group.

    Pugu and Kazimzumbwi:–FINAL.pdf.

    Ruvu South:

    I was also recently (April to May 2021) in Pugu and Ruvu South forests for 3 weeks, specifically searching for SGT, Sokoke Pipit and other coastal endemics such as East Coast Akalat. Despite being a proper timing for SGT, and using census points and mist nets, only one bird was recorded/seen in Pugu forest. We didn’t capture this bird. There are no many birds passing through these forests to and from the breeding ground.

    The Tanzania Forest Conservation Group findings showed a serious threat from habitat degradation, and there are small good forest left for the SGT. From what I observed in April and May, this has changed much, and will take time to recover now that Pugu and Kazimzumbwi have been merged and designated as Nature Reserve.

    Habitat degradation in the coastal forests in Tanzania is increasing due to the high demand of forest products by the ever growing human population. Some of these forests have been fragmented by human development activities such as roads and railways. Invasive plant species are also seen as a potential major threat in these already stressed forests.

    I see no justification (albeit for our East African subspecies) for degrading this species on the ground that there is an increase in the scientific knowledge on the current population status of SGT.

    I am happy to share some maps and abstract information from my recent findings in Pugu and Ruvu South to show the sampling efforts.

  4. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion. We greatly appreciate the time and effort invested by so many people in commenting. The window for consultation is now closed. We will analyse and interpret the new information and post a preliminary decision on this species’s Red List status on this page in early July.

    Thank you once again,
    BirdLife Red List Team

  5. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2021 Red List would be to list Spotted Ground-thrush as Vulnerable under Criteria C2a(i); D1.

    Based on evidence provided that the Kenyan subpopulation may be close to extinction, the population size may equate to 660-680 mature individuals. The population size estimate has therefore been revised to fall in the band of 500-1,500 mature individuals. However, the largest subpopulation, based on currently available evidence, is still considered to be that of G. guttata guttata, at c. 600 mature individuals.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline in mid-July, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    The final 2021 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December 2021, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  6. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    The final categorisation for this species has not changed. Spotted Ground-thrush is recommended to be listed as Vulnerable under Criterion C2a(i); D1.

    Many thanks for everyone who contributed to the 2021 GTB Forum process. The final 2021 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December 2021, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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