Justification of Red List Category
Despite being found at three new locations since 1997, this species still has a small range, which is fragmented, and suspected to be declining owing to habitat loss. It would seem to occur in low numbers and its population is likely to be small and declining. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.
The population is suspected to be declining in line with the clearance and degradation of forest within the species's range. The likely rate of decline, however, has not been estimated.
Malaconotus gladiator occurs at low densities in western Cameroon (Mt Cameroon, Rumpi Hills, Bakossi Mountains, southern slopes of Mt Manenguba [Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1999c], Mt Kupe, Mt Nlonako, Mt Oku, and at four further localities in the Bamenda-Banso Highlands [Njabo and Languy 2000]) and eastern Nigeria (Obudu Plateau). The species must be on the verge of extinction on Mt Oku, as there is almost no forest remaining within its altitudinal range (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998c). It is uncommon on Mt Nlonako and has not been found in the north Bakossi Mountains or the highlands of Banyang Mbo, despite searches (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1999c, R. Fotso in litt. 1999). However, in 1998, it was found to be locally common in central Bakossi Mountains, with six territories located in <1 km2 and this is undoubtedly the most important site for the species (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998d). In 1999 and 2000, it was found on the southern slopes of Mt Manenguba, where it was also fairly common (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1999c, Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2000b).
This insectivorous species is found in montane forest, both primary and old secondary forest, favouring the edge of natural clearings or gaps (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998c), and forest/grassland mosaic from 950 to 2,300m. Altitudes vary with locality, for example, in the Bakossi Mountains it is found down to at least 1,100m, whilst on Mt Manenguba it is mainly found between 1,500 and 2,200m (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1999c, Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2000b), and on Mt. Cameroon it is reported between 900 and 1,700m (Ho?ák et al., unpublished data based on a survey performed between 2011-2015).
There is already considerable loss of habitat in the Bamenda Highlands, where remaining forest is severely threatened by clearance for agriculture, grazing, firewood collection and extraction of timber, whilst forest loss on the Obudu Plateau continues at an alarming rate (P. Hall in litt. 1999). Plans for a 70,000 ha palm oil plantation threaten to significantly fragment large areas of suitable habitat in the southwestern Cameroon if approved (Linder et al. 2011).
Conservation Actions Underway
The Mount Cameroon National Park was created in December 2009, covering c.58,000 ha (WWF 2010). In the Bakossi Mountains, forests are still waiting to be classified, probably partly as forest reserves (open to timber concessions) and partly as protected areas (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998d). On the Obudu Plateau, a small patch of forest has been established as a reserve and it is hoped to extend protection to other forest areas on the plateau (P. Hall in litt. 1999).
25 cm. Large, big headed, grey-and-green forest shrike. Combination of grey cap and nape and green body are diagnostic. Voice Series of monotonous whistles or grating notes, identical to those of Grey-headed Bush Shrike M. blanchoti. Hints Easily detected by distinctive, far-carrying call. Does not associate with other species.
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Westrip, J.
Fotso, R., Hall, P., Maisels, F., Whytock, R. & Hořák, D.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Malaconotus gladiator. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/10/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/10/2020.