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 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 trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). 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). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The European population is estimated at 8,000-21,000 pairs, which equates to 16,000-42,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms <5% of the global range so a very preliminary estimate of the global population is 320,000-840,000 mature individuals although further validation of this estimate is needed. The population is therefore placed in the band 300,000-849,999 mature individuals.
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. In Europe the population size is estimated to be fluctuating (BirdLife International 2015).
The following information relates to the species's habitat use in its European range. The species is found mainly in low-lying coastal areas but also in wide shallow valleys at altitudes of up to 400 m, up to 20 km inland in Cyprus and 60 km inland in southern Turkey. The species uses agricultural land as well as dense scrub mainly alongside rivers with reeds (Tucker and Heath 1994). In southern Turkey, it breeds from March to May (McGowan and Kirwan 2013). It lays seven to twelve eggs (Harrison and Castell 2002). The nest is a shallow hollow or depression, sometimes lined with a few scraps of plant material and concealed amongst vegetation. It feeds on seeds of grasses, weeds and cereal crops, shoots, leaves, tubers, berries and figs as well as insects. The species is sedentary (Madge and McGowan 2002).
This is species is threatened by hunting in Turkey and Cyprus (Johnsgard 1988, Tucker and Heath 1994). In Europe it has also suffered from loss of habitat through intensification of agriculture (McGowan and Kirwan 2013). In Cyprus habitat destruction as a result of the removal of citrus and tobacco plantations and other suitable vegetation cover, primarily for tourist industry developments (Tucker and Heath 1994).
Conservation Actions Underway
EU Birds Directive Annex II. In Turkey, the species is fully protected and in Cyprus a ban on hunting was implemented 1984-1985 but this was lifted again after lobbying by the Hunting Association (Tucker and Heath 1994).
Conservation Actions Proposed
In Europe, hunting of the species needs to be controlled and it should be added to Appendix II of the Bern Convention (Tucker and Heath 1994). Key areas of suitable habitat should be identified and protected from development and the restoration of low-intensity farming encouraged.
Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Ashpole, J, Butchart, S.
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Francolinus francolinus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/06/2022.