Aceh Bulbul Pycnonotus snouckaerti


Justification of Red List Category
On account of recent rarity in records and absence across trade markets, this species is thought to have a smaller population size than previously considered. The population is inferred to be undergoing a continuing decline due to an unquantified threat from trapping for the domestic cage bird trade. As such, it has been uplisted to Endangered. If future surveys reveal that the species has a far more restricted range and population size that considered here, it may require a further change in status.

Population justification
Given the species's restricted range throughout the Gunung Leuser National Park only, but with its true range likely confided to 1-3 sites (F. Rheindt in litt. 2020, J. Eaton in litt. 2020), it has been estimated that there may only be more than 250 mature individuals left (F. Rheindt in litt. 2020). Thus, the population size is placed here in the band of 250-999 mature individuals, roughly converted to 375-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
The population is inferred to be undergoing a continued decline at a moderate rate given the observation of trapping for the cage bird trade at locations for the species and observations of disappearance of the species from one of very few currently known locations (Eaton and Collar 2015).

Distribution and population

Pycnonotus snouckaerti is restricted to the northern parts of Aceh province, north Sumatra, Indonesia. Whilst previously the species was considered to occur across much of northern Aceh, it is now thought to only occur in the alpine area surrounding Mount Leuser, located in the Gunung Leuser National Park (Global Forest Watch 2020, F. Rheindt in litt. 2020). However, the species has not seen records here in recent years, although is thought to be common. The species may also occur north of Perlak, Aceh, and extend to the greater Leuser Ecosystem (eBird 2020). However, these observations remain uncertain and could suggest only sporadic occurrence of the species, not representing its true range (F. Rheindt in litt. 2020). The species has for example not seen recent sightings in the North Sumatra Province, including south to Sinabung, Sibayak mountain and the Caldera Toba forest (C. A. Putra in litt. 2020). Thus, it is assumed that the species's range has been overestimated and is instead highly restricted, likely to only occur in 1-3 sites (F. Rheindt in litt. 2020, J. Eaton in litt. 2020). However, with the extent of its occurrence into the Leuser Ecosystem yet to be determined (J. Eaton in litt. 2020), taking a precautionary approach, the species's range is thought to extend across Gunung Leuser National Park only.


It is found above 1,000 m and prefers small, scrubby clearings dominated by grass and fern in forested areas and has been described as uncommon (Eaton and Collar 2015, Fishpool and Tobias 2016).


Trapping for the bird trade is ongoing in this region and is suspected to have reduced bird populations at sites holding this species (Eaton and Collar 2015). The fact that none were recorded out of over 1,000 P. bimaculatus observed at Sumatran bird markets between 1997 – 2001 (Shepherd et al. 2004) may actually reflect on how restricted the range of the species actually is in comparison with P. bimaculatus and hence the low numbers available, rather than the absence of a threat from trade (Eaton and Collar 2015, Leupen and Gomez 2019). In recent years, low numbers continue to be recorded across markets, with only 4 individuals found in 2018 at a market in Takengon (Leupen and Gomez 2019).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species is thought to be present in Gunung Leuser National Park, but recent records are scarce (del Hoyo et al. 2020, Global Forest Watch 2020, F. Rheindt in litt. 2020). No other conservation actions are known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Surveys across the montane areas in Aceh (such as the greater Leuser Ecosyste; S. Mahood in litt. 2020) are of a high global priority given the potentially significant populations of globally threatened species that could be present. Investigate levels of trapping offtake at sites at varying differences from access points, and attempt to quantify density/population impacts.


Text account compilers
Martin, R., Fernando, E.

Butchart, S., Chng, S., Eaton, J., Mahood, S., Putra, C. & Rheindt, F.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Pycnonotus snouckaerti. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 04/12/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 04/12/2021.