NT
Blue-moustached Bee-eater Merops mentalis



Justification

Justification of Red List category
This species is listed as Near Threatened on the basis that it is inferred to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline owing to on-going habitat loss.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is reported to be not uncommon and rare to locally common (del Hoyo et al. 2001).

Trend justification
The population is inferred to be in moderately rapid decline, owing primarily to habitat loss, which is driven mainly by logging for timber and agricultural encroachment (del Hoyo et al. 2001; F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012; J. Lindsell in litt. 2012). The decline is not thought to be more severe than this because the species demonstrates some tolerance of habitat fragmentation and degradation.
Between 2001-2019, this species's range experienced a loss of forest cover of 16% (Global Forest Watch 2021). Assuming that the population declines at a similar rate, this equates to a rate of 9% over three generations. The suspected rate of past decline is therefore placed in the band of 1-15% over three generations.
Between 2016-2019, this species's range experienced a loss of forest cover of 7.2% (Global Forest Watch 2021). Assuming that the population declines at a similar rate, projected forward over three generations, this equates to a rate of 22%. Hence, the suspected future rate of decline is placed in the band 20-29% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Merops mentalis is found in West Africa, occurring in Sierra Leone, south-eastern Guinea, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, southern Ghana, southern Nigeria and western Cameroon (Borrow and Demey 2001, 2004). Despite being widespread, the species generally exists at low densities, even in protected areas (J. Lindsell in litt. 2012).

Ecology

The species shows some dependence on mature forest, being observed in clearings and along the edges of primary forest and old secondary forest (Borrow and Demey 2001; del Hoyo et al. 2001), although it may also feed over agricultural land where a few large trees (alive or dead) remain standing (del Hoyo et al. 2001; F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). It appears to prefer evergreen and semi-evergreen forest with a broken canopy and small clearings, also frequenting the edges of forest by roads and swamps (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012; J. Lindsell in litt. 2012), but it is clearly reliant on areas of intact forest, and is generally not found amongst tree crops and farmbush (J. Lindsell in litt. 2012). It is usually seen in pairs or small family groups (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012).

Threats

This species occurs in a region known for rapid and on-going deforestation. Large remnant tracts of forest in Liberia are under intense and increasing pressure from commercial logging and a consequent increase in settlement and small-holder agriculture (Fauna and Flora International 2000). Elsewhere in the Upper Guinea region, forest survives in fragments that are under intense pressure for logging and conversion to agriculture (Fauna and Flora International 2000). Forest in some reserves is being destroyed for teak plantations and cultivation, as well as through illegal logging (e.g. Opro River, Afram Headwaters, Tano Ofin and Atewa Range, Ghana) (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). The species's tolerance of some forest degradation and fragmentation implies that it is not undergoing a severe decline.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
This species occurs in a number of protected areas across its range, although the level of protection afforded to these areas varies considerably.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out an analysis of existing records and conduct surveys to study the species's range and population size. Monitor habitat trends across its range. Conduct research into the species's ecology, habitat requirements and tolerance of habitat fragmentation and degradation. Increase the total area of suitable habitat in the species's range that is protected. Improve the effectiveness of protected area management where necessary.

Acknowledgements

Text account compilers
Clark, J.

Contributors
Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Lindsell, J., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Westrip, J.R.S.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Merops mentalis. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/blue-moustached-bee-eater-merops-mentalis on 02/03/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org on 02/03/2024.