Drakensberg Rockjumper Chaetops aurantius


Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A., Fishpool, L.D.C., Boesman, P. and Kirwan, G.M. 2016. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Near Threatened A2bc+3bc+4bc
2017 Near Threatened A2bc+3bc+4bc
2016 Least Concern
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Near Threatened
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status altitudinal migrant Forest dependency does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 174,000
Number of locations -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor estimated 2009
Population trend decreasing suspected -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) 20-29 - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) 20-29 - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 3.6 - - -

Population justification: The global population has been estimated at 100,000-500,000 individuals (del Hoyo et al. 2007), with 10,000-100,000 individuals estimated to be in Lesotho (per Hockey et al. 2005). The Lesotho highlands are a stronghold for this species. In the Sehlabethebe National Park, 11 breeding pairs per 32 km transect were found in the afro-montane grassland (Kopij 2002). In the highlands above 2,200 m, 14 pairs per 54 km transect were found (Kopij 2015a). 10 pairs per 120 km transect were found in the foothills, but this species was not recorded at all in the lowlands (Kopij 2015a). In Afro-montane Themeda-Festuca grassland, 29 pairs were found per 61.2 km transect, while 32 breeding pairs were found per 44.7 km transect in the Afro-alpine grasslands 2,500 - 3,000 m above sea level (Kopij 2015b). 8 pairs per 104 km transect, and 1 pair per 110 km transect were found in the upper Senque and lower Senque river drainages respectively (Kopij 2013).  

Trend justification: Lee et al. (2017) analysed Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP) data (SABAP1 1987-1992; SABAP2 2007-2014. Note SABAP2 is ongoing but data taken from 2014) and suggested that this species is experiencing a decline in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Lee et al. (2017) suggest that the reporting rate has declined 28.5%, the range has declined 42.0% and the core range has declined 35.5% between SABAPs (although the corrected population change metric suggests population declines may be lower than this). Declines may in part be due to incomplete sampling during SABAP2 and the time period for these declines is greater than three generations (c.11 years), but it is precautionarily assessed that the species may be at least declining moderately rapidly over three generations.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Lesotho extant native yes
South Africa extant native yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Lesotho Liqobong
Lesotho Mafika - Lisiu
Lesotho Sehlabathebe National Park
Lesotho Sehonghong and Matebeng
Lesotho Upper Quthing Valley
Lesotho Upper Senqu River
South Africa Amatola - Katberg Mountain
South Africa Golden Gate Highlands National Park
South Africa Maloti Drakensberg Park
South Africa Matatiele Nature Reserve
South Africa Umgeni Vlei Nature Reserve

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude major resident
Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks) suitable resident
Altitude 1800 - 0 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Wood & pulp plantations - Small-holder plantations Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Whole (>90%) Unknown Unknown
Ecosystem degradation

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Chaetops aurantius. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/drakensberg-rockjumper-chaetops-aurantius 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.