Sheppardia montana 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Muscicapidae

Scientific Name: Sheppardia montana (Reichenow, 1907)
Common Name(s):
English Usambara Akalat, Usambara Ground Robin
French Cossyphe des Usambaras
Alethe montana Reichenow, 1907
Dryocichloides montanus ssp. montanus (Reichenow, 1907) — Collar and Andrew (1988)
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A., Fishpool, L.D.C., Boesman, P. and Kirwan, G.M. 2016. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Identification information: 13 cm. Small, drab robin of forest. Dull with hardly any contrasting features. Tail slightly redder than brown upperparts. Off-white underparts washed brown across breast and flanks. Loral area slightly paler (hardly noticeable). Voice Soft tssh contact note. Thin, weak, high-pitched song. Hints Most easily located in Shume and Shagayu forest patches on the West Usambara Mountains (Tanzania).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Baker, N., John, J. & Mapunda, R.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Bird, J., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Westrip, 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, burning and degradation of its forest habitat apparently continues. It is therefore classified as Endangered.

Previously published Red List assessments:

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).

Countries occurrence:
Tanzania, United Republic of
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:1200
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:2-5Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:NoLower elevation limit (metres):1600
Upper elevation limit (metres):2200
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.

Trend Justification:  The population is suspected to be in decline owing to the clearance and degradation of the species's forest habitat through the encroachment of agriculture and wood extraction. The likely rate of decline, however, has not been estimated.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:1Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:Yes
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation:100

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 appears to generally avoid burnt areas, with >95% captures in a recent study in unburnt areas (R. Mapunda in litt. via J. John 2016). 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).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):3.8
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

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 recently gazetted Magamba Forest Nature Reserve, which is probably the stronghold for the species is threatened by frequent forest fires (R. Mapunda in litt. via J. John 2016). 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. Magamba Forest Reserve where the Usambara Akalat is locally common (R. Mapunda in litt. via J. John 2016) was gazetted as a Nature Reserve in 2010, and it is the largest forest block (8700ha) among 14 forests in Lushoto District (J. John in litt. 2016). 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. Control the occurrence of forest fires in west Usambaras especially at Magamba Forest Nature Reserve (R. Mapunda in litt. via J. John 2016). 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. 2016. Sheppardia montana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22709659A94218406. . Downloaded on 26 May 2018.
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