Ceratogymna elata


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Ceratogymna elata
Species Authority: (Temminck, 1831)
Common Name/s:
English Yellow-casqued Hornbill, Yellow-casqued Wattled Hornbill
French Calao à casque jaune

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cd+3cd+4cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor/s: BirdLife International
Reviewer/s: Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor/s: Barlow, C., Dowsett, R., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Hall, P., Lindsell, J. & Rainey, H.
Facilitator/s: Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Pilgrim, J., Robertson, P., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Taylor, J.
This species has been uplisted to Vulnerable because observations regarding threats and the disappearance of the species from many areas strongly imply that it is undergoing a rapid population decline owing to on-going and unsustainable hunting pressure, habitat loss and fragmentation.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Ceratogymna elata is widespread in West Africa from Senegal (very small range [Morel and Morel 1990]), Mali, Guinea (c.419 individuals), Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone (c.624 individuals), Liberia (c.2,385 individuals), Côte d'Ivoire (c.3,871 individuals), Ghana (c.817 individuals; it still occurs in the east, albeit in very small numbers [Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2009b], which may not represent a viable population [Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2009a]), Togo (few records [Cheke and Walsh 1996]), Benin, Nigeria (c.1,625 individuals) and Cameroon (c.2,791 individuals) (Fry et al. 1988, H. Rainey in litt. 2007). It still appears to be locally common in forested areas of Sierra Leone, south-west Ivory Coast and Liberia (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). Additionally, in parts of Cameroon and south-west Nigeria it may also still be abundant, but there are indications that it is declining in many places (Elgood et al. 1994, P. Hall in litt. 1999, Jam 2006, H. Rainey in litt. 2007, 2011, F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). Much of Liberia has been deforested in recent years, so it is possible that while its population is still stable where forest remains, the overall area of occupancy may have declined with loss or degradation of habitat. Recent observations suggest that the species is in rapid decline in Ghana. It appears to have been extirpated from many areas, including Bia National Park (NP), where there have been no records since 1991 (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2011a, F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). It has not been recorded at Atewa Range FR since 2005 at least, with perhaps the last confirmed record in May 2002 (per Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2011b). During a survey of three forest reserves in Ghana (Draw River, Bio-Tano and Krokosua) in October-November 2003, only one large hornbill was recorded in high quality habitat, at a time when such species should have been present, probably indicative of local declines (H. Rainey in litt. 2011). In Togo, it has probably been extirpated from Assoukoko forest, which is the largest area of forest remaining in the country (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). Overall, the population is suspected to be in rapid decline.

Cameroon; Côte d'Ivoire; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Liberia; Mali; Nigeria; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Togo
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Recent calculations put the species's area of suitable habitat at 35,808 km2, and mean population density at 0.35 birds/km2.This gives an estimated population size of 12,533 individuals (H. Rainey in litt. 2007), here rounded to 12,500 individuals. This roughly equates to 8,000-9,000 mature individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It is a bird of lowland primary forest but also occurs in logged and secondary forest, riverine forest and oil-palm plantations (Fry et al. 1988, Holbech 1992, 1996). It has also been recorded in predominantly agricultural landscapes, for example in areas near Gola Forest, Sierra Leone (J. Lindsell in litt. 2012). The species undergoes local movements in response to fruit availability.

Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Hunting is likely to be a major threat throughout its range (H. Rainey in litt. 1999) and, in Ghana, over-hunting is probably causing a serious decline (Holbech 1992, 1996). Logging is probably only a threat to the species in small forests where hunting is rampant (Holbech 1992, 1996), but destruction of forest throughout its range is causing habitat fragmentation, resulting in the increasing isolation of large fragments, and which may inhibit movement between seasonal food sources and lead to a reduction in its population (Elgood et al. 1994, H. Rainey in litt. 2011). Deforestation is on-going and affecting protected areas; for example forest at Déré Foret Classée (Guinea) has been mostly cleared (H. Rainey in litt. 2012). Since this is a long lived and mobile species there is also the concern that populations, particularly in degraded areas, may seem healthier than they really are - birds may persist, although breeding may be disrupted causing populations to crash when these adult birds die (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). Hornbills in general are thought to have been extirpated from some of the more isolated forest fragments (H. Rainey in litt. 2011). The species is expected to disappear very soon from the small forest fragments east of the Volta region (Ghana), and adjacent Togo; its survival in the larger forest patch of Assoukoko on the Togo side is in doubt (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). Its disappearance from Bia NP, where there have been no records since 1991 (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2011a), is probably related to uncontrolled hunting and the logging of the southern section in the 1990s. The species's fate in south-western Ghana is very unfavourable, with most habitat expected to be lost to timber extraction and agricultural encroachment, and habitat in reserves expected to be lost by the early 2030s (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in many protected areas across its range, but is effectively protected and secure in only a fraction of these, having already disappeared from numerous reserves owing to hunting and habitat loss (H. Rainey in litt. 2011, 2012; F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). The species is abundant and well protected in Gola Forest (Sierra Leone and Liberia) (J. Lindsell in litt. 2012, F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Regularly monitor the species at selected sites across its range to determine trends. Research the extent and nature of the threat caused by hunting. Conduct awareness programmes to discourage hunting. Protect significant areas of forest at key sites, in both strictly protected areas and community-led multiple use areas. Improve the management of existing protected areas to ensure de facto protection.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Ceratogymna elata. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 20 April 2014.
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