Sheppardia montana


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Sheppardia montana
Species Authority: (Reichenow, 1907)
Common Name(s):
English Usambara Akalat, Usambara Ground Robin
French Cossyphe des Usambaras
Dryocichloides montanus montanus Collar and Andrew (1988)

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Taylor, J. & Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Baker, N.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Bird, J., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J.
There is no recent information on the size and trend of this species's population, but it is probably declining. The species has a very small range in which it is known from few locations. Clearance and degradation of its forest habitat apparently continues. It is therefore classified as Endangered.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Sheppardia montana has a very small range of c. 930 km2 in the West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, of which it is thought to occupy just c. 140 km2 of suitable habitat. The total population was conservatively estimated to be 28,000 birds at the beginning of the 1980s (van der Willigen and Lovett 1981).

Tanzania, United Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The total population has been conservatively estimated at 28,000 birds.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This is a largely ground-dwelling bird of montane forest undergrowth, thickets and degraded forest with some remaining canopy, replacing Sharpe's Akalat S. sharpei at higher altitudes and in drier forests (Keith et al. 1992). It forages on the forest floor (often following driver-ant swarms), as well as on trunks and lianas, and by sallying in mid-air (Keith et al. 1992). Its breeding ecology is unknown, but there are indications that the breeding season is from October to March, with a peak in November-December (Keith et al. 1992, N. Baker in litt. 1999).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Formerly its habitat was being converted to softwood plantations, although probably no longer (N. Baker in litt. 1999). Encroachment for subsistence agriculture is still ongoing. Although this has been regarded as a minor threat (N. Baker in litt. 1999), in some forests wood extraction is still a very serious issue (Goodman et al. 1995). The species's population is therefore assumed to be declining and becoming fragmented.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Most of its range lies within Forest Reserves. Some forest areas in the west Usambaras have developed community management plans (Goodman et al. 1995) but the outcomes and effectiveness of these is not known. In February 2000 a three-year evaluation of forest health, land-use change and information sharing in the Eastern Arc forests was established (Madoffe et al. undated, see Satellite imagery, permanent sample plots and stakeholder interviews are being used to evaluate forest health (Madoffe et al. undated, see

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct fieldwork to establish its population size. Commence population monitoring. Assess and monitor potential threats, especially the extent and rate of loss or degradation of its habitat. Work with organisations such as Tea Estates to conserve forests in the West Usambaras, such as at Ambangulu (Goodman et al. 1995).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Sheppardia montana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 04 September 2015.
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