LC
Black Curassow Crax alector



Justification

Justification of Red List Category

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km² or Area of Occupancy < 2,000 km² combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'fairly common' (Stotz et al. 1996). In east Colombia it is locally abundant along the east Andes and Macarena Mountains, where it has been considered the most common large bird at an estimated density of 80 per km2 of forest. In Cerro de la Neblina, east Venezuela, it was considered much less common than another cracid, Razor-billed Curassow Mitu tuberosum, in 1991. In Guyana, it is common only where there is intact habitat and no hunting. In Suriname it was considered common in 1968, and it remains common in primary forest in the south (del Hoyo et al. 1994; Restall et al. 2006; O. Ottema in litt. 2020). Surveys across French Guiana in 2000-2013 found population densities of 0.64 (90% C. I. 0.43 - 1.06) individuals per kmin hunted sites, and 2.96 (90% C. I. 1.99 - 4.26) individuals per kmin unhunted sites (Denis et al. 2016). Further analysis estimated a mean population density of 2.68 (90% C. I. 1.52–7.43) individuals per km2 at undisturbed sites (Denis et al. 2018). In Brazil, it is fairly common in Amapá, northern Roraima, around Manaus and in Pico de Neblina National Park (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Surveys in the Jari region in northeast Brazil detected an average of 0.22 individuals per 10 km of transect in primary forest, and 0.73 individuals per 10 km in secondary forest (Parry et al. 2007).

Trend justification
Remote-sensing data on loss of tree cover with at least 30% canopy cover from the species's range indicate that approximately 3% was lost from 2000 - 2020 (Global Forest Watch 2021). Extrapolating over 26 years, an estimated 4% was lost over the past three generations. Extrapolating forwards the 2016-2020 rate of tree cover loss, an estimated 7% of tree cover may be lost from the species's range over the next three generations.

This species appears to be tolerant of secondary forest, at least in parts of its range, so its population size may not be declining in line with the rate of forest loss. However, there may be an additional impact of disturbance. The species is heavily targeted by hunters across much of its range, which may be causing additional population declines in at least some parts of its range. Surveys across French Guiana in 2000-2013 found population densities of 0.64 (90% C. I. 0.43 - 1.06) individuals per kmin hunted sites, and 2.96 (90% C. I. 1.99 - 4.26) individuals per kmin unhunted sites (Denis et al. 2016), representing a 78% reduction in abundance in hunted sites. Hunting has been found to have strongly depleted the population abundance of curassow species at some locations in the Amazon basin (Peres and Palacios 2007). This species has always been hunted and there is no evidence that the level of hunting is substantially increasing, although deforestation may lead to an increase in hunting as remaining forests become more accessible to hunters.

Assuming that the population size declines in proportion to tree cover loss, that hunting may cause an equivalent population decline, and that disturbance may contribute an additional 50% of the decline caused by deforestation, the species's suspected population reduction over the past three generations is placed in the band 1-9%, and the suspected population reduction over the next threegenerations is placed in the band 1-19%.

Distribution and population

Crax alector is found in north-central South America. Subspecies erythrognatha occurs to the west, in eastern Colombia along the east Andes and Macarena Mountains, and southern Venezuela. The nominate subspecies alector is found in the east, from Cerro de la Neblina, east Venezuela, eastwards through Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, and south to north Brazil, where it occurs in Amazonas, Roraima, Pará and Amapá (del Hoyo et al. 1994; WikiAves 2019).

Ecology

It inhabits humid terra firme and gallery forest, often being seen in open habitats such as old plantations and secondary growth (Borges 1999), but preferring thickets along rivers or forest borders. Surveys have indicated higher relative frequencies in secondary forest than in primary forest (Borges 1999; Parry et al. 2007), although it appears limited to primary forest in French Guiana. The species is generally restricted to lowlands and foothills up to 1,700 m. It feeds predominantly on fruits, most importantly of the genera Eugenia and Guarea, but will also take leaves, buds, shoots, invertebrates, flowers and mushrooms. Breeding times are variable, with nests recorded in January to April in Suriname (Haverschmidt and Mees 1994), but young have been recorded in March and September in French Guiana, and a breeding-condition female in January in Colombia. The nest is a small platform made of sticks, built in trees c.5 m above the ground (del Hoyo et al. 1994).

Threats

It is frequently hunted and trapped across much of its range, including in Brazil (De Souza-Mazurek et al. 2000) and particularly in French Guiana (del Hoyo et al. 1994; O. Ottema in litt. 2020) and Guyana (Shaffer et al. 2017). Hunting has been found to have depleted the population abundance of curassow species at some locations in the Amazon basin (Peres and Palacios 2007) and of this species in French Guiana (Denis et al. 2016). Instances of hunting of the species at unsustainable levels were recorded in the Jari region in 2005 (Parry et al. 2009).

Deforestation is ongoing across the species's range (Global Forest Watch 2021). Large areas of forest have been cleared, particularly in Colombia and in Roraima in Brazil, largely for conversion to crops and pastureland, with small areas lost through gold mining in Suriname (O. Ottema in litt. 2020).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in protected areas, including the Central Suriname Nature Reserve.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Study the impact of hunting on the species's population trends. Monitor hunting levels. Continue to monitor rates of deforestation across the species's range.
Expand the protected area network to effectively protect IBAs. Effectively resource and manage existing and new protected areas. Conservation on private lands, through expanding market pressures for sound land management and preventing forest clearance on lands unsuitable for agriculture, is also essential (Soares-Filho et al. 2006). Maintain connectivity between areas of unhunted habitat (Denis et al. 2016).

Identification

85-95 cm. Large, mostly black cracid. Uniform black aside from white vent. Crest shorter and less dense than in other species of Crax. Lacks bill knob and wattles. Grey legs. Female almost identical to male but with a few narrow white bars on crest. Voice Low humming or booming umm-um... umm, um-um. Hints Most often seen in pairs or small groups.

Acknowledgements

Text account compilers
Wheatley, H.

Contributors
Brooks, D., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Lees, A., Ottema, O., Richard-Hansen, C. & Symes, A.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Crax alector. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 11/08/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 11/08/2022.