Cape Rockjumper Chaetops frenatus


Justification of Red List Category
There have been moderately rapid declines in range and reporting rates of this species based on data from Southern African Bird Atlas Projects, and these declines may continue into the future. The rate of decline is not thought to meet the threshold for Vulnerable, but it is precautionarily considered to approach this threshold and hence the species is listed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
Lee and Barnard (2016) estimated the population to be 32,551-59,289 individuals. This is roughly equivalent to 21,700-39,526 mature individuals, and rounded here to 21,700-39,600 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The species is thought to be undergoing a moderately rapid decline, as implied by range and reporting rate reductions between Southern African Bird Atlas Projects (SABAP). Lee and Barnard (2016) place the range reduction between SABAPs as 32% (SABAP1 1987-1992; SABAP2 2007-ongoing), with a reporting rate decline of 31%. However, Lee et al. (2017) place the range decline at 25%, but with a reporting rate decline of 53.4%. Over three generations, these rates are equivalent to declines of 11 - 28%. Given that climate change may be having a particular impact on this species (Oswald et al. 2018), this decline is suspected to continue into the future.

Distribution and population

Chaetops frenatus is endemic to the Fynbos of South Africa in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape Provinces (Hockey et al. 2005; Taylor et al. 2015). It is absent from the Cape Peninsula, but occurs from Uitenhage in Eastern Cape, west to the Piketberg and Cederberg mountains (Hockey et al. 2005; Taylor et al. 2015).


This species occurs in rocky mountainous fynbos up to 2,300 m, although it does occur down to sea level at Cape Hangklip (Hockey et al. 2005; Taylor et al. 2015).


Recent declines are unlikely to have been driven by agriculture expansion, as most arable land in this species's habitat having already been converted before the start of the first Southern African Bird Atlas Project (see Lee and Barnard 2016). This species is potentially highly susceptible to climate change, with it having a low tolerance of high temperatures (Milne 2014 per Taylor et al. 2014); and temperatures in South Africa have been reported to be rising (van Wilgen et al. 2016). Invasive vegetation may also threaten the species's habitat (Taylor et al. 2015).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted actions are known. There is a programme underway that is tackling invasive vegetation in the Fynbos biome (Working for Water) (Turpie et al. 2008).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Investigate to what extent the species may be able to cope with increased temperatures (Taylor et al. 2015). Investigate the degree of inter-connectivity and population dynamics between different sub-populations (see Taylor et al. 2015). Protect important sites for this species, and expand protected areas, particularly in corridors that link sub-populations (Taylor et al. 2015). Ensure appropriate fire management and carry out alien vegetation eradication programmes (Taylor et al. 2015).


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Clark, J., Ekstrom, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Chaetops frenatus. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/cape-rockjumper-chaetops-frenatus on 07/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 07/06/2023.