Ibadan Malimbe Malimbus ibadanensis


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Endangered because it probably has a very small population which is suspected to be declining. Its very low numbers and small range imply negative factors whose impact on the species may be continuing.

Population justification
Data from transect surveys in most forest patches within the majority of the species's known range were used to estimate the population at 2,469 individuals (with a 95% confidence interval of 1,401-4,365), which can be considered a maximum estimate of the world population. The confidence intervals for this estimate are taken for the species's population range. roughly equating to 930-2,900 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to have declined during a c.66% reduction in its range since the 1970s (Manu et al. 2005), probably owing to widespread forest clearance (Peach 2005). Forest within its range remains under pressure from humans (Peach 2005; A.U. Ezealor in litt. 2007; W. Cresswell in litt. 2007), thus it is still suspected to be declining, although the likely rate of population decline has not been estimated.

Distribution and population

Malimbus ibadanensis was known only from a small area circumscribed by Ibadan, Ife, Iperu and Ilaro in south-western Nigeria (Elgood et al. 1994). In December 2006, the species was discovered in Ifon Forest Reserve, where six sight records were obtained during a 10-day survey (A.U. Ezealor in litt. 2007, Ajagbe et al. 2009). Foraging pairs were seen on two separate occasions and lone males were recorded twice (A.U. Ezealor in litt. 2007), and there were further records from the reserve in 2007 and 2008 (Anon. 2008). Records of this species from Kakum National Park, Ghana, in February 2002, September 2004 and February 2005 are yet to be confirmed (R. Cruse in litt. 2005, R. Thomas in litt. 2005, L. Fishpool in litt. 2005). Between the 1970s and early 1990s there were very few records (Ash 1991). It was not seen from 1980 until November 1987 (Elgood et al. 1994), when only four birds were recorded in 10 days of intensive searching at Ibadan. Records in the late 1990s were all from the grounds of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) near Ibadan, as searches were concentrated in this area (P. Hall in litt. 1999). Nine birds (two pairs and five females) were seen there between October 1998 and April 1999 (plus one female at Akanran, 15 km east of Ibadan) (P. Hall in litt. 1999). Transect surveys were conducted in 1999-2002 at a total of 52 forest patches in south-west Nigeria (Manu et al. 2005, Peach 2005), and on the basis of the results the population was estimated at 2,469 individuals (95%CI: 1,401-4,365) in 112 km2 of remaining forest (Manu et al. 2005). This can be considered a reasonable maximum estimate of the world population since the survey covered almost all remaining forest fragments within the species's historical range (Manu et al. 2005). It was found at only 19 of the 52 sites surveyed (Manu et al. 2005, Peach 2005) and the results suggest that the species's range in south-west Nigeria has declined by c.66% compared with its range in the 1950s-1970s (Manu et al. 2005). There have been recent sightings in 2015 and 2016, including an attempted breeding attempt in April 2015, that was later abandoned (T. Adeyanju, A. Awoyemi, J. Onoja and S. Manu pers comm. via D. Bown 2016). 


It inhabits forest patches, forest edge, secondary woodland, and possibly even highly degraded farmland and gardens. The species's abundance in forest patches decreases with increasing isolation, although it seems to be unaffected by the area of forest fragments and can persist in patches as small as 0.2 km2 (Manu et al. 2005). The forest reserve at IITA is 30 year old regrowth forest in various stages of maturity (Manu 2001). Moniya, where the species was recorded during recent surveys, is a disused cocoa farm with some regrowth, subjectively similar to secondary forest (Manu 2001). All sightings of the species in Ifon Forest Reserve in December 2006 were at the edge of secondary forest along logging tracks (A.U. Ezealor in litt. 2007). Habitat type or degradation does not appear to explain in any way the distribution of this species (Manu 2001). Birds have usually been observed 5-15 m up in trees, especially oil-palms. It appears to have an extended breeding season, with nesting recorded in February, May, June, July, September, October and December. Notably the species is normally seen in association with several other malimbe and weaver species (Manu 2001). In 2015 a nest was recorded during quarterly IBA monitoring in a Daniellia ogea tree. There was evidence of young in the nest, but subsequently the nest was apparently abandoned (J. Onoja and T. Adeyanju pers. comm. via D. Bown 2016).


Widespread forest clearance for subsistence agriculture is cited as a possible cause of the species's decline since the 1970s, and human pressure on forests within its range is ongoing (Peach 2005). Forest is currently being fragmented and degraded by poorly regulated and indiscriminate logging (primarily for fuelwood [W. Cresswell in litt. 2007]), and for subsistence farming of cassava and yam, plantain and cocoa plantations, and the large-scale illegal cultivation of Cannabis sativa (A.U. Ezealor in litt. 2007). The species's sensitivity to the isolation of forest patches may be due to low dispersal distances or small home ranges compared to its congeners, and would suggest that it has experienced large declines in range and abundance due to deforestation (Manu et al. 2005). There may be other factors that negatively influence the species's abundance. Despite its use of secondary habitats, it is possible that these are suboptimal or that some specific environmental constraint is operating. Competition with other malimbe and weaver species is a possibility (Manu 2001). Such species, preferring secondary habitats, may have increased in modern times due to habitat modification. As a result, competition with these weavers sharing a similar niche may be at least partly responsible for the current rarity of the species (Manu 2001). Increased nest destruction by children and during fuelwood collection (W. Cresswell in litt. 2007) has also been suggested as a causal factor in the species's decline (Manu 2001). There are also reports that it may have been collected for parasitology studies (Ekperusi et al. 2013).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
200 ha of regrowth forest habitat is protected at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, near Ibadan (P. Hall in litt. 1999). However its habitat requirements are either poorly understood or of little relevance to this species's conservation. Most of the forest patches within the species's current range are community-owned forests and their preservation is dependent upon local communities (Manu et al. 2005). A PhD project on malimbe species in Nigeria from 1999 to 2002 collected important survey data for the species (Peach 2005). The new site at Ifon is a Forest Reserve and an IBA.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further population surveys to monitor trends throughout the species's known range (S. Manu in litt. 1999). Monitor the clearance and degradation of forest within the species's range. Identify habitat requirements for feeding and breeding (Ash 1991). Assess the determinants of breeding success, particularly the possible competition with other weaver species (Manu 2001). Conduct taxonomic studies into the relationship of the species within the Black-throated Malimbe M. cassini complex. Protect all existing forest patches within and close to its known range (Manu et al. 2005). Increase the number and extent of forest patches within and around the species's range (Manu et al. 2005). Conduct surveys for the species in additional forest blocks in western Nigeria such as Omo Forest (2,328 km2), most of which remains unsurveyed (Manu et al. 2005, A.U. Ezealor in litt. 2007). Provide incentives for the protection of community-owned forests (Manu et al. 2005).


20 cm. Large, black-and-red weaver. Adult male has scarlet head, neck, throat and breast. Black mask extends to behind eye and onto throat. Red on breast extends onto belly. Remainder of plumage black. Adult female has red confined to crown and nape with thin, red breast-band. Voice Described as chup ee wurr followed by wheeze. Hints Usually seen in pairs, sometimes in groups of up to five birds, often associating with Red-headed Malimbe M. rubricollis.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Westrip, J.

Hall, P., Cresswell, W., Ezealor, A., Cruse, R., Bown, D., Onoja, J., Manu, S., Thomas, R., Fishpool, L., Ajagbe, A., Awoyemi, A., Adeyanju, T.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Malimbus ibadanensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 10/08/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 10/08/2022.