Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Endangered because it has a very small range, which is also fragmented and undergoing a continuing decline as a result of pressure from the human use of its montane forest habitat.
Preliminary research in 1994 estimated the Kilum-Ijim population at 3,000 birds, however the species is also found in most of the remaining forest in the Bamenda Highlands, putting the population somewhere in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.
This species's population is suspected to be declining rapidly, in line with habitat loss and degradation within its range, owing to forest clearance and uncontrolled forest fires.
Platysteira laticincta is restricted to the Bamenda Highlands of western Cameroon, and is only likely to survive if the Kilum-Ijim forest, the largest remaining forest area in the region, is preserved (D. Thomas in litt. 1996). Research in 1994-1995 found the species in most remaining forest or forest remnants in the Bamenda Highlands and seemingly able to persist in very small forest fragments (<1 km2) (McKay and Coulthard 1996). However, in 1999 and 2000, follow-up surveys found some of these forest fragments had almost completely disappeared, with P. laticincta either absent or only a few pairs remaining (Njabo and Languy 2000). Preliminary research in 1994 estimated the Kilum-Ijim population at 3,000 birds (McKay 1994).
It is found in montane forest, dominated by species such as Podocarpus, Schefflera and Prunus, where it inhabits thick forest understorey and seems to favour streams or dry stream courses (McKay 1994, McKay and Coulthard 1996). Below 1,800 m it is replaced by its congener the Scarlet-spectacled Wattle-eye P. cyanea (McKay and Coulthard 1996). It breeds in the early dry season, January-March (McKay and Coulthard 1996), with nest-building starting in November (F. Maisels in litt. 1998).
It is under very serious threat from forest clearance for agriculture, grazing, firewood and timber, with birds surviving in forest fragments in imminent danger of extinction, exacerbated by possible increased predation of nests at the edge of forest fragments (McKay and Coulthard 1996; Sedlá?ek et al. 2014). In 2002, it was observed that Podocarpus trees had been felled at Oku and intensive grazing was taking place on montane grasslands (F. Maisels in litt. 2007). Forest fires in the dry season are the most serious threat, particularly as the species inhabits thick undergrowth and nests close to the ground (F. Maisels in litt. 1998). In March 2000, c.500 ha of forest were burnt around Lake Oku (J. DeMarco in litt. 2000). Uncontrolled burning takes place as a result of fires for forest clearance, cooking fires in the forest, people tending hives, and discarded cigarettes. Plans for a 70,000 ha palm oil plantation threaten to significantly fragment large areas of suitable habitat in the southwestern Cameroon if approved (Linder et al. 2011).
Conservation Actions Underway
Local communities are actively engaged in conserving the montane forest, with support from the Kilum-Ijim Forest Project. More sustainable farming techniques are being used to take pressure off the remaining forest. The condition of the Kilum-Ijim forest and its endemic birds is monitored, as well as the overall extent of forest cover in the Bamenda Highlands. Community-based conservation activities were extended to other forest fragments in the Bamenda Highlands in 2000 (J. DeMarco in litt. 2000). Following changes to conservation projects in this region over recent years, forest patrols by local people stopped in areas such as Oku (F. Maisels in litt. 2007). The species is present in the Bafut-Ngemba Forest Reserve, but despite protection this reserve saw 37% reduction in forest cover between 1978 and 2006 (Takem-Mbi 2013).
13 cm. Small, black-and-white flycatcher with very obvious, broad, crimson eye-wattles. Glossy, deep bluish-black upperparts, neck, throat and breast. Remaining underparts white. Female has black throat and breast. Voice Discordant whistles, three-to-four-note phrases, similar to song of Black-throated Wattle-eye P. peltata. Hints Relatively easy to see, but has a quiet song and subdued calls.
Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Westrip, J.
DeMarco, J., Maisels, F., Thomas, D. & Whytock, R.
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Platysteira laticincta. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/01/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/01/2021.