Clarke's Weaver Ploceus golandi


Justification of Red List category
This species has a small and fragmented range, within which its highly threatened due to drought and its woodland habitat being cleared for cultivation. It is therefore listed as Endangered.

Population justification
The population was estimated to be not more than 1,000-2,000 pairs in the early 1980s (Collar and Stuart 1985). No recent population assessments have been undertaken, however the population is inferred to be declining owing to continuing woodland clearance and selective and illegal logging (Craig 2020). Data from Global Forest Watch (2021, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein) suggests that this forest loss has been occurring for some time. Therefore, the population is inferred to still be less than 2,000 pairs, or 4,000 mature individuals. The population size is tentatively placed in the band 2,000-4,000 mature individuals, although clarification is needed.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be declining at a moderate rate in line with the clearance and degradation of its forest habitat. Between 2009-2019, the species' range experienced a 4.1% reduction in forest cover (Global Forest Watch 2021, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein). The likely rate of past decline is therefore suspected to be in the band of 1-10%. However, the most serious threat to this species is drought. Over the past two years this threat is believed to have prevented any breeding events from occurring, as the species relies on very specialised seasonal wetlands (F. Ng'weno in litt. 2022). If this drought persists it has the potential to severely threaten the entire population, and therefore future declines could be significantly higher.

Distribution and population

Ploceus golandi is known only from Kilifi County in southeastern Kenya. Most records are from the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (350 km2 occupied by this species [Bennun and Njoroge 1999]), but it is also recorded from the Dakatcha Woodland IBA northwest of Malindi, and north of the Sabaki river (300 km2  [Bennun and Njoroge 1999, Jackson et al. 2015]), including the eastern edge of Galana Ranch east to Marafa and Hadu (Zimmerman et al. 1996), and the remaining Brachystegia forest north and west of Adu (Hadu) (F. Ng'weno pers. obs. 2020).


Outside the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, the species is confined to lowland Brachystegia woodland (Zimmerman et al. 1996). Within the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, it has been recorded from all forest habitats, although only when adjacent to Brachystegia woodland. In Dakatcha Woodland, it is found mainly in Brachystegia forest, but breeds in seasonal wetlands and also forages in mixed woodland and forest edge directly adjacent to Brachystegia (F. Ng'weno in litt. 2020).

It occurs in noisy but somewhat erratic flocks of 5-30 birds and is also sometimes observed in mixed species flocks (Fry and Keith 2004). It feeds high up in the canopy on beetles and caterpillars, mainly in Brachystegia spiciformis forest, but it also forages in other types of forest and forest edge, including Salvadora persica trees. This species forages in forest, but several breeding events have been recorded in seasonal wetlands in the Dakatcha area in 2013 and 2015 (Ng’weno 2013, 2015; Jackson et al. 2015), and north of Adu in 2018 and 2019 (Utumbi and Gacheru 2019 and pers. obs.).

Immature birds were observed in 2017. It had previously been noted that the species may not breed in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, since it appears to be largely absent during April-July, reappearing with young in August and thence regularly seen into November, with few records from December-February (Zimmerman et al. 1996). It is believed to have bred north of the Sabaki river in 1994, when many juveniles were observed near Dakatcha in mid-July (Zimmerman et al. 1996). It nests colonially in seasonal wetlands, sometimes in large numbers, when conditions are right during the rainy season - March, May, late November and early December have been recorded. It may not nest every year if conditions are unsuitable (F. Ng'weno in litt. 2016).


Drought is the main threat to this species, which is thought to have prevented any breeding events occurring for the last two years (F. Ng'weno in litt. 2022). The species relies heavily on very specialised seasonal wetlands which don't occur during a drought, and foraging could also be affected as insects make up a large part of the species' diet (F. Ng'weno in litt. 2022). If droughts persist, or if drought events increase in frequency as a result of climate change, they have the potential to severely threaten the entire population.

Clearance of woodland for agriculture is the another significant threat to the species, e.g. at Dakatcha where hilltops are being extensively cleared for cultivating pineapples, and where woodland is also being damaged by cutting of Brachylaena trees (in great demand for fuelwood and carving-timber) (Bennun and Njoroge 1999). Forest at Arabuko-Sokoke continues to be degraded by both illegal logging and licensed wood removal. Although areas of Brachystegia forest remain, the forest is being reduced by both small-scale agriculture and proposed large-scale agricultural schemes. Forest area is also reduced by logging and charcoal production. Clarke’s Weaver needs extensive Brachystegia forest to feed in, and reduction in the extent of forest will impact its chances of survival (F. Ng'weno in litt. 2016). Large tracts of land in Dakatcha Woodland IBA are currently being sold to speculators, and many are already converted to agricultural land (F. Ng'weno in litt. 2020, 2022).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is the focus of a project to promote long-term conservation of the forest through sustainable management and community participation in forest conservation (Fanshawe 1997). Dakatcha Woodland Conservation Group and Nature Kenya have enacted an education awareness campaign with a brochure aimed at decision-makers published in 2016 and others in preparation (F. Ng'weno in litt. 2016). Nature Kenya has had a presence in both Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Dakatcha Woodland since the early 2000s. Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is a national Forest Reserve managed by a Management Team composed of several government agencies as well as Nature Kenya. Its status is strong, but illegal logging continues. Dakatcha Woodland is community land held in trust by Kilifi County. Part of it lies in Galana Ranch, owned by the Agricultural Development Corporation. In 2015, the Kenya Forest Service, Kilifi County, Nature Kenya, Dakatcha Woodland Conservation Group and other stakeholders developed and published a Participatory Management Plan for Dakatcha Woodland, 2014-2019. Several Community Conserved Areas of high quality were identified and demarcated; and monitoring of birds is ongoing. A project funded by BirdLife Denmark through CISU in both Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Dakatcha Woodland is underway to reduce the depletion of forested Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and contribute to the best and most sustainable forest management practices for the benefit of all (F. Ng'weno in litt. 2016). Kenya's National Environment Management Authority and Kenya Forest Service have withstood pressure for habitat alteration in the Dakatcha Woodland (Mwongela 2012). Nature Kenya have produced two information booklets about the birds of Dakatcha Woodland aimed at the general public (F. Ng'weno in litt. 2020). In 2019, Nature Kenya purchased 1,100 acres of suitable habitat in the area north of Adu, where this species were recorded breeding. In 2020, the Kilifi Forest Act became law, which lists Dakatcha Woodland as one of the County Forests (F. Ng'weno in litt. 2020).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Improve knowledge of its distribution. Better define its habitat and breeding requirements, in particular its tolerance of forest degradation. Census and monitor its population size.  
Continue efforts to conserve Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and Dakatcha Woodland. Purchase more land for nature reserve creation where possible. Gazette Dakatcha Forest as a forest reserve or area with similar protected status (Bennun and Njoroge 1999) and work with the community and Kilifi County Government to ensure protection of the habitat. Enforce legislation controlling forest-use in Arabuko-Sokoke and Dakatcha Woodland.


13-14 cm. Small, woodland weaver. Male black above with black head and breast. Canary-yellow underparts fade to white on belly, with yellow-and-white vent. Female olive above, with yellow underparts. Both sexes have golden-yellow edgings to wing-covert feathers. Similar spp. Forest Weaver P. bicolor lacks yellow on wing-coverts. Voice Typical weaver-like squizzlings and chirpings. Hints Most frequently seen in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (Kenya), from August to March.


Text account compilers
Rotton, H., Clark, J.

Bradley, J., Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Jackson, C., Matiku, P., Ng’weno, F., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Westrip, J.R.S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Ploceus golandi. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/clarkes-weaver-ploceus-golandi on 20/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org on 20/02/2024.