Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is believed to have a moderately small population, which is suspected to be declining owing to the effects of forest exploitation, clearing for agriculture and capture for trade.
The total population was thought to be very small, at no more than 2,500 birds (D. A. Turner in litt. 1999), but the recently revised population estimate of c.1,400 individuals for Zanzibar and over 1,000 in the Eastern Usambara, Tanzania (L. Borghesio in litt. 2010) suggests that the total population estimate should be recalculated. The population is thus assumed to fall within the range 2,500-9,999 individuals. This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.
Although a limited time series of data suggests a sub-population is Eastern Usambara is stable (Borghesio 2007, L. Borghesio in litt. 2010), the population is suspected to be in decline owing to the ongoing threats from habitat clearance and trapping,
Tauraco fischeri inhabits coastal and riverine forest and woodland in Kenya, north-eastern Tanzania and southern Somalia. In Kenya and Tanzania, it is frequent to common (Fry et al. 1988, Seddon et al. 1999) in coastal forests from Boni south to Tanga, inland along the Tana River, and up to 1,500 m in the Usambara Mountains (Fry et al. 1988) where a population of over 1,000 individuals is thought to reside (L. Borghesio in litt. 2010). The subspecies T. f. zanzibaricus, endemic to Zanzibar (N. Baker in litt. 1999), was thought to number only 25-50 birds (D. A. Turner in litt. 1999), but following surveys in June-July 2001 the population has been estimated at c.1,400 individuals (Borghesio and Ndang'ang'a 2003). In Somalia, there are now probably fewer than 50 individuals left (D. A. Turner in litt. 1999), all in the lower Jubba valley, where up to 80% of the riverine forest has been cleared in less than 30 years (Madgwick 1986, Ash and Miskell 1998); there is thus little hope that the species will persist there. The total population is unknown but assumed to be 2,500-9,999 individuals. Although a limited time series of data suggests the population is Eastern Usambara is stable (L. Borghesio in litt. 2010), the population as a whole is probably declining due to trapping and the clearance of coastal forests (del Hoyo et al. 1997), which may have led to local extinctions e.g. Watamu beach forest where habitat destruction and modification has led to this species not being seen there for 10 years (W. Knocker in litt. 2016).
This species inhabits forest and wooded thickets, favouring a canopy and sub-canopy of mature fruiting trees (del Hoyo et al. 1997). Although sometimes recorded in degraded habitats, e.g. cultivated areas with a few remaining trees (Fry et al. 1988), it is much rarer in this habitat (Borghesio et al. 2008) and it is not clear whether populations can persist without tracts of intact forest (Fanshawe 1995, L. Bennun in litt. 1999). It primarily feeds on fruit, in particular figs and the berries of Synsepalum brevipes (doing well in locations where these are in plenty, e.g. Tana River National Primate Reserve), but also takes flower buds, young leaf shoots and insects (del Hoyo et al. 1997, W. Knocker in litt. 2016). Its nest is a fragile platform of twigs placed in a tree 3-10 m above the ground. It lays two eggs, and the incubation period is 22-23 days (del Hoyo et al. 1997).
It is threatened primarily by trapping and the clearance of coastal forests (del Hoyo et al. 1997). During the 1980s and early 1990s, hundreds of birds were exported from Tanzania for the cagebird trade, with many more perishing en route, and this had a serious impact on numbers in the Usambaras (D. A. Turner in litt. 1999). Trade in live birds from Tanzania is still a significant threat (N. Baker in litt. 1999), although a recently imposed quota system is helping to limit its impact (Seddon et al. 1999). On Zanzibar, there is a high rate of habitat degradation, with only 16% of the habitat occupied by the species showing signs of low, rather than high, human impact (Borghesio and Ndang'ang'a 2003). Its habitat on Zanzibar is threatened mainly by firewood collection, but also by charcoal production, timber extraction and extensive clearing of land for agriculture (Borghesio and Ndang'ang'a 2003).
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It occurs in the Shimba Hills National Park (del Hoyo et al. 1997). On Zanzibar, 44% of the population is found within protected areas (Borghesio and Ndang'ang'a 2003).
40cm, 227-283g. One of the 'green turaco' group, with predominantly glossy greenish-blue plumage. Highly distinctive white-tipped crimson crest and crimson nape. White line in front of eye separate from white line extending backwards from below the eye by a dark loral spot.
Text account compilers
Calvert, R., Evans, M., Martin, R, O'Brien, A., Robertson, P., Starkey, M., Taylor, J. & Westrip, J.
Baker, N., Bennun, L., Borghesio, L., Turner, D. & Knocker, W.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Tauraco fischeri. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/09/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/09/2019.