Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Muscicapidae

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)
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: 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.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Endangered (EN)
2007 Endangered (EN)
2004 Endangered (EN)
2000 Endangered (EN)
1996 Vulnerable (VU)
1994 Vulnerable (VU)
1988 Threatened (T)

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
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 930
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Number of Locations: 2-5
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Lower 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: No Population severely fragmented: No
No. of subpopulations: 1 Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All 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 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
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 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 2012: e.T22709659A39740030. . Downloaded on 04 October 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided