Lanius newtoni


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Lanius newtoni
Species Authority: Barboza du Bocage, 1891
Common Name(s):
English Sao Tome Fiscal, Sao Tome Fiscal Shrike, São Tomé Fiscal, Newton's Fiscal, Sao Tomé Fiscal Shrike, São Tomé Fiscal Shrike
French Pie-grièche de São Tomé

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered C2a(i,ii);D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Taylor, J. & Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Gascoigne, A., Maia, H., Olmos, F., Tavares, J. & d'Assis Lima, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Bird, J., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Peet, N., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J.
This species qualifies as Critically Endangered because it is believed to have a tiny population. It occupies a very small area of primary forest which, although it is not threatened, remains unprotected and might be vulnerable to alteration in the future. It is unclear whether introduced predators are impacting its population. If its population size proves to be larger than suspected it may warrant downlisting to Endangered.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Lanius newtoni is endemic to the island of São Tomé, São Tomé e Príncipe. Previously known only from records in 1888 and 1928, it was rediscovered in 1990, with the observation of a single bird near the source of the rio Xufexufe, in the south-west of the island (Atkinson et al. 1991). Since 1994, there have been regular records from the Xufexufe catchment (Christy and Clarke 1998), a record of two birds from Valverde in the valley of the rio Ió Grande in the centre of the island (S. d'Assis Lima in litt. 1998), five birds from an area of primary forest near the Ió Grande (Scollaert and Willem 2001) in the south-east and a single bird south of Formoso Pequeno, in the Bombaím area. Surveys in 2007 and since have recorded birds at Ribeira Peixe and Ana Chaves (F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008, Olmos and Turshak 2007, Associação de Biólogos Saotomenses in litt. 2010, H Maia et al. in litt. 2010), and the species was recorded at Estação Sousa (at c.1,400 m) in 2008 (Maia and Alberto 2009, Leventis and Olmos 2009). Its population is unknown, but is likely to be tiny given the limited area of suitable habitat. However, a number of recent sightings have expanded its known range, hence the population may be greater than previously thought (A. Gascoigne in litt. 2010). Anecdotal reports suggest that it has declined in some areas as human disturbance increased (F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008), but these claims need substantiating.

Sao Tomé and Principe
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: A number of recent sightings have expanded its known range, hence the population may be greater than previously thought (A. Gascoigne in litt. 2010). However, given that a full population survey has yet to be conducted, it is precautionarily assumed to have a tiny population of fewer than 50 individuals and mature individuals, given the limited area of suitable habitat.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: All records are from primary lowland and mid-altitude forest up to c.1,400 m (Maia and Alberto 2009), in sites with little or no undergrowth, but with bare ground and rocks (Atkinson et al. 1991, Christy and Clarke 1998). Many records are from ridgetops (Scollaert and Willem 2001) and along watercourses, so the species may have a linear or patchy distribution (Olmos and Turshak 2007, Olmos and Turshak 2010). Its apparent association with watercourses may indicate a preference for open areas in forest, such as gullies and riversides (Olmos and Turshak 2010). The breeding season is unknown but may be early in the year, prior to the dry season (F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Historically, large areas of lowland and mid-altitude forest were cleared for cocoa and coffee plantations. Today, land privatisation is leading to an increase in the number of small farms and the clearance of trees. This does not currently affect primary forest but may be a threat in the future. Suitable habitat, including that in protected areas, is affected by disturbance through hunting and palm-wine harvesting activities (Olmos and Turshak 2010). Birds may have declined in the Bombaim area as disturbance has increased owing to people harvesting for palm-wine (F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008). Agricultural encroachment in the more accessible areas of Obô Natural Park, such as Bom Sucesso, was evident in 2008, and hunting and palm-wine harvesting were widespread, with shelters constructed inside the park (Olmos and Turshak 2010). Plans to develop coffee plantations and restore and extend 630 ha of abandoned palm-oil plantations (to cover more than 2,000 ha; ready for harvest in 2013) in the vicinity of the core zone of Obô Natural Park and encroaching into its buffer zone (J. Tavares in litt. 2010) are likely to result in the loss of suitable habitat and potentially have both positive and negative influences on levels of disturbance (Olmos and Turshak 2010). The palm-oil project, however, reportedly incorporates the protection of some primary and mature secondary forest (J. Tavares in litt. 2010). Road developments along the east and west coasts are increasing access to previously remote areas (A. Gascoigne in litt. 2000). Introduced black rat Rattus rattus, mona monkey Cercopithecus mona, civets and stoats are potential predators (Atkinson et al. 1991, F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008) and feral pigs are present (F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Primary forest is protected as a zona ecologica and in the 295-km2 Obô Natural Park, although there is no law enforcement within these areas and the lack of data about the species's ecological requirements makes it difficult to assess the benefits of these areas. The park was established in 1992, but was not protected by law until 2006, and although a zoning and management plan was being developed in 2008, when the first directors were appointed, the park was still lacking sufficient personnel (Olmos and Turshak 2010). A law providing for the gazetting of protected areas and the protection of threatened species has been ratified (F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008). In 2008, a training programme with NGOs Associação de Biólogos Saotomenses (ABS) and Monte Pico was initiated to involve locals in the study and conservation of São Tomean species, and this has since been achieved (Associação de Biólogos Saotomenses in litt. 2010). As part of the BirdLife International Preventing Extinctions Programme, the Species Guardian ABS has begun training local community members in the implementation of site-based conservation and has been conducting an awareness-raising campaign (BirdLife International 2008). During an international workshop held in February 2008 to promote ecotourism in São Tomé e Príncipe, birdwatching was listed as an activity that should be encouraged and Ribeira Peixe was identified as a suitable site for a pilot project (Olmos and Turshak 2010). In July 2009, ABS promoted a short course for the training of local people as bird guides at Ribeira Peixe and efforts were on-going to promote the conservation of the area (Olmos and Turshak 2010).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Research its population size, distribution, ecological requirements and key threats, including possible predation by introduced mammals, in order to produce conservation recommendations. Ensure legal protection of all remaining lowland primary forest. List it as a protected species under national law. Actively manage and protect the recently gazetted protected areas. Continue to promote the conservation of the Ribeira Peixe area. Closely monitor the impacts of projects to develop and restore plantations.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Lanius newtoni. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 29 August 2015.
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