Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Struthioniformes Struthionidae

Scientific Name: Struthio molybdophanes
Species Authority: Reichenow, 1883
Common Name(s):
English Somali Ostrich
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.
Taxonomic Notes: Struthio camelus and S. molybdophanes (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) were previously lumped as S. camelus following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).
Identification information: Male 210-275cm, 100-156kg, Female 175-190cm, 90-110kg. Huge flightless bird with massive bare legs and long bare neck and head. Loose plumage is solidly black in the male apart from the bright white tail and small wings. Females are dark brown. Similar spp. to S. camelus but bare areas are blue-grey, eyes are pale grey-brown and the plumage is blacker in the male. The female is more similar to S. camelus, but always has blue-grey eyes.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cd+3cd+4cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2014-07-24
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Martin, R, Taylor, J. & Symes, A.
This newly-split species is suspected to be undergoing a rapid decline over three generations (50 years) given the apparent severity of a variety of threats including hunting for feathers and food, egg collection and habitat loss and degradation. It has therefore been listed as Vulnerable, but better information on population trends and the scope and severity of threats is highly desirable.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Struthio molybdophanes is found in north-east Africa, with its range incorporating EthiopiaSomalia, Djibouti and Kenya (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Numbers have noticeably decreased since the late 1980s, with total disappearance from some areas, although flocks of 40 are still seen in the southern Danakil (Ash and Atkins 2009).
Countries occurrence:
Djibouti; Ethiopia; Kenya; Somalia
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 1080000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Upper elevation limit (metres): 3000
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population size has not been quantified owing to recent taxonomic splits.

Trend Justification:  No trend data are available, but the given the apparently severity of threats including hunting for feathers and food, egg collection and habitat loss and degradation, the species is precautionarily suspected to be undergoing a rapid decline over three generations (50 years).
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: Unknown Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The species is often encountered alone or in pairs in a variety of habitats including semi-arid and arid grassland, dense thornbush and woodland (Davies 2002, Ash and Atkins 2009).
Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 16.8
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Ash and Atkins (2009) document threats to and apparent declines in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The eggs are used as ornaments, water containers and symbols or protective devices on churches and graves, birds are shot for target practice, food, leather and feathers, and chased to exhaustion or death by drivers. Habitat loss and degradation undoubtedly represents a further threat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation and research actions in place

Conservation and research actions proposed
Obtain population and trend estimates, and ascertain severity of threats. Combat hunting and egg collecting via awareness-raising campaigns.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2014. Struthio molybdophanes. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T22732795A45024417. . Downloaded on 07 October 2015.
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