Agelastes meleagrides 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Galliformes Numididae

Scientific Name: Agelastes meleagrides Bonaparte, 1850
Common Name(s):
English White-breasted Guineafowl
French Pintade à poitrine blanche
Spanish Pintado de Pecho Blanco, Pintado Pechiblanca
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Identification information: 40-45 cm. Medium-sized, terrestrial bird with small head. Bare red head and upper neck. Pure white lower neck, breast and upper back. Rest of plumage black, finely vermiculated with white. Female similar to male but slightly smaller. Voice Low deep kok-kok, also loud, ringing, melodious call. Rather vocal, uttering dry ticking calls. Hints Occurs singly, in pairs or small groups, but more commonly in groups of 15-24 birds, constantly moving in search of food and occupying large territories.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cd+3cd+4cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Demey, R., Gartshore, M., Klop, E., Lindsell, J., Phalan, B., Rainey, H., Robertson, P. & Thompson, H.S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Keane, A., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Allinson, T
This species is classified as Vulnerable because it is suspected to have suffered a rapid population decline over the last 12 years (three generations), based on the rate of forest destruction throughout its range, which is now highly fragmented. It is also heavily persecuted in some parts of its range. This decline is likely to continue in the future, and it is possible the species will disappear from all but a few protected areas. Effective protection is essential for the maximum number of sites where it still occurs.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Agelastes meleagrides is endemic to the Upper Guinea Forest ecosystem, which once covered a large part of West Africa, but is now severely reduced and highly fragmented. It now occurs in remnant forest patches in Sierra Leone (Gola Forest region only; the population has been put at c.5,700-8,700 [Allport et al. 1989], although this was probably an over-estimate [J. Lindsell in litt. 2007]), Liberia (population estimated at more than 10,000 in 1985 [Gatter 1997]), Côte d'Ivoire (notably in the Taï region, where the population was estimated at 42,400 to 119,800 in 2000/01 [Waltert et al. 2010], but also at Haute Dodo, where it is rare, and Cavally Forest Reserves, where it may be fairly common [H. Rainey in litt. 2007]) and Ghana (population estimated at 1,000 birds, although with the possible exception of Ankasa, these could be remnant populations that are not viable given the level of hunting pressure in the country [Allport 1991, B. Phalan in litt. 2009]). Its scarcity in Ghana is confirmed by a lack of records from surveys and interviews with local hunters in Draw River, Boi-Tano and Krokosua forest reserves in 2003 (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). In 1995, the total population was estimated at 85,000-115,000 individuals (Gartshore et al. 1995). This estimate was thought to be optimistic (H. Rainey in litt. 2007); however, more recent surveys in southwestern Côte d'Ivoire suggest that it may be reasonably accurate (Waltert et al. 2010). Although recent observations suggest that the species is more tolerant of habitat degradation than previously thought (Waltert et al. 2010), logging, forest clearance for agriculture and hunting are believed to be driving on-going declines across the region (H. Rainey in litt. 2007, Waltert et al. 2010). However, this species is shy and difficult to observe, and could consequently be under-recorded (E. Klop in litt. 2007).

Countries occurrence:
Côte d'Ivoire; Ghana; Liberia; Sierra Leone
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:191000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:11-100Continuing decline in number of locations:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:In 1995, the world population was estimated at 85,000-115,000 individuals (Gartshore et al. 1995). Although this numbers was thought to be optimistic (H. Rainey in litt. 2007), surveys carried out at the species stronghold in the Taï region of Côte d'Ivoire, (which suggest a local population of between 42,400 and 119,800 individuals [Waltert et al. 2010]), indicate that it may be a reasonable estimate.

Trend Justification:  The species is suspected to be in rapid decline owing to the rapid destruction of habitat through logging and forest clearance for agriculture across the Upper Guinea region (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). Where it still occurs in large numbers, it suffers high mortality from poaching. Increased hunting in logged areas may prevent recovery at some sites (Allport et al. 1989, Holbech 1992, 1996).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:50000-99999Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:Yes
No. of subpopulations:2-100Continuing decline in subpopulations:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Ecology poorly known. Lives in small groups of typically 15-20 individuals, although the largest flock recorded consisted of 38 birds (Waltert et al. 2010). Surveys conducted in the Taï region of Côte d'Ivoire suggest a preference for drier forest (Waltert et al. 2010). It has been suggested that population density is much lower in secondary forest (Urban et al. 1986, Allport et al. 1989, H. Rainey in litt. 2007); however, surveys conducted by Waltert et al. (2010) show that it can occurs at high densities in areas of past disturbance and is not confined to unlogged primary forest. It has been reported in old secondary forest in Ghana (Holbech 1992, 1996) and Sierra Leone (E. Klop in litt. 2007, J. Lindsell in litt. 2007) and in cocoa plantations along the Kwadi river, south of Gola North (E. Klop in litt. 2007). It feeds on insects, small molluscs, berries and fallen seeds of forest trees (Urban et al. 1986). The breeding season is October-May, possibly year-round (Martinez 1994). The species joins groups of sooty mangabeys Cercocebus atys and other terrestrial mammals to forage in Taï National Park (H. Rainey in litt. 2007).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):3.9
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Its habitat is rapidly receding and where it still occurs in large numbers it is heavily poached. During the recent conflict, forest in Côte d'Ivoire was logged illegally and opportunistically (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). Logging and forest clearance for agriculture may increase in Liberia with the return of peace (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). Increased hunting in logged areas may push the species beyond recovery at some sites (Allport et al. 1989, Holbech 1992, 1996). In the Taï region, levels of poaching are thought to be increasing and the species is now almost absent from the southeast of Taï National Park where hunting is most prolific (Waltert et al. 2010). In Gola forest, the trapping of Crested Guineafowl Guttera pucherani using snares may be a threat (E. Klop in litt. 2007). A. meleagrides may be especially susceptible to poaching since groups are reported to be easily shot by imitating their grouping call which causes individuals to assemble rather than spread as in G. pucherani (Bechinger 1964, Waltert et al. 2010). Interspecific competition with the larger G. pucherani may exclude the species from some logged forest (Gartshore et al. 1995, Gatter 1997).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
In Sierra Leone, the species is restricted to Gola Forest, which is now well-protected, and surrounding areas (J. Lindsell in litt. 2007, 2012). In Côte d'Ivoire, Taï National Park is one of the largest and best-preserved areas of Upper Guinea forest. Plans are underway to establish a trans-boundary reserve across the Sierra Leone-Liberia border. The park will link the 72,000 ha Gola Forest Reserve in Sierra Leone with the proposed 98,000 ha Gola National Rainforest National Park in Liberia via cross-border forest corridors potentially covering a further 50,000 ha. Work has begun to build national capacity (both government and civil society) to manage the trans-boundary protected area and ensure that local forest communities will benefit from future management (BirdLife International 2011).

Conservation Actions Proposed
In Liberia, conduct surveys and identify key sites (P. Robertson in litt. 1998). In Ghana, carry out population surveys to ascertain its status (Holbech 1992, 1996). Where possible, conduct education campaigns (Martinez 1994, H. Rainey in litt. 2007) in part to address hunting pressure (Martinez 1994). In Taï National Park and Gola Forest, ensure that future studies include support for local people to contribute to research, management and tourism in and around the park (Gartshore et al. 1995, H. S. Thompson in litt. 1999). Promote community participation in conservation planning and other activities (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). Enforce laws for protected areas (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). Ensure de facto protection of protected areas in and around the Taï forest (H. S. Thompson in litt. 1999, H. Rainey in litt. 2007), such as Haute Dodo, Cavally, Goin-Debe and Nzo Fauna Reserve (H. Rainey in litt. 2007, Waltert et al. 2010). At Taï National Park the main priority is to control poaching more effectively through stronger legal protection and community-based programmes that find alternatives to bushmeat (Waltert et al. 2010).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Agelastes meleagrides. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22679545A92818303. . Downloaded on 22 July 2018.
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