Justification of Red List Category
This species, first described only in the 1990s, is listed as Critically Endangered on the basis that its apparently extremely small population is inferred to be in decline owing to habitat loss and degradation. It is recognised, however, that further fieldwork may lead to the discovery of new localities and populations.
The species’s population is estimated to number 50-249 mature individuals, based on a known population of c.14 individuals. This is assumed to be equivalent to c.70-380 individuals in total.
Little is known about the population status of this species, or how it is affected by habitat degradation, but it is suspected to be undergoing an unquantified decline, owing to habitat loss to road construction and wildfires and other human pressures within its range.
Liocichla bugunorum was described from Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Since the original sighting, the species has also been sighted near Bomdila (C. Bonpo in litt. 2011) and since 2009, at least six breeding territories have been recorded in a small area of Lama Camp in Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary (Grewal 2009, S. Dalvi and P. Alstrom in litt. 2012, J. Eaton in litt. 2014). There are only three known localities at present, although analysis of the distribution of apparently suitable habitat suggests it could range more widely in Arunachal Pradesh and also into neighbouring Bhutan and China (Peterson and Papes 2006, S. Dalvi in litt. 2012). However, a survey of other suitable areas surrounding the type locality failed to record this species (R. Athreya in litt. 2007), and fieldwork in May 2007 found very few additional suitable areas in western Kameng district (S. Dalvi in litt. 2012). Despite this, several individuals were caught in mist nets in an area where the species had only been seen once before in 2006 (R. Athreya in litt. 2016). Given its striking plumage and distinctive vocalisations it is unlikely that the species could have escaped detection for so long if it were relatively common and widespread.
Little is known about this species. Most records are from heavily disturbed hillsides over 2,000m (though some down to 1,850m [R. Athreya in litt. 2016]) and among dense scrub, small trees (Anon 2006) and bamboo (C. Bonpo in litt. 2011); though the area where the species has been recorded is part of a wider area of contiguous closed canopy forest. Other members of the genus occur in evergreen primary forest and some secondary habitats, typically singly or in pairs. They tend to be unobtrusive.
Little is known, but the species has been recorded from logged forest, which may well be sub-optimal habitat as surveys of similar habitat surrounding known localities were fruitless (Anon 2006). Logging for fuel-wood and timber continues at one of the known localities for the species, as local Bugun people rely heavily on local timber for fuel and construction. In 2012-2013, habitat at Lama Camp was further fragmented by the construction of a new road, which is expected to lead to more habitat degradation in the immediate vicinity (J. Eaton in litt. 2014), although recently human activity in the area of the camp has reduced (R. Athreya in litt. 2016). Uncontrolled fires also pose a risk to the species's habitat. At Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, fire affected a large area from Lama Camp to Sunderview in February 2013, reducing the area of suitable habitat (A. P. Singh in litt. 2014). Increasing tourism could pose a long term threat if it remains unregulated.
Conservation Actions Underway
The species has been described from within the Bugun community forest area adjacent to Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary. Between them, Eaglenest and Sessa sanctuaries protect a microcosm of the wider Kameng protected area. The type locality and surrounding areas have been proposed as a community reserve, which is a new category of protected area in India in which local communities play a significant role in partnership with the forest department (R. Athreya in litt. 2007).
22 cm. Overall, an olive-grey bird with a black cap, black uppertail. It has a striking gold streak either side of a black eye, gold in the wing as a broad panel and extending as gold fringes to the primaries. Otherwise dark remiges and rectrices are tipped with vibrant red. The closed underside of the tail appears as a solid sheet of orange-red flame in the male. The female is a duller version of the male with the red areas smaller in size or replaced by yellow (under the tail). Similar spp. none within the range. Voice distinctive fluty notes with a terminal inflection.
Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Taylor, J., Westrip, J., Gilroy, J., Derhé, M., Bird, J., Symes, A.
Alstrom, P., Athreya, R., Bonpo, C., Dalvi, S., Eaton, J., Praveen, J., Singh, A.P. & Singh, P.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Liocichla bugunorum. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/10/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 29/10/2020.