Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be experiencing an ongoing moderately rapid population decline, owing to the extensive clearance and degradation of forest across its range; it almost qualifies as threatened under criteria A2c+3c+4c. Any evidence that this species is undergoing a rapid population decline might qualify it for uplisting to a higher threat category.
In Liberia, the population is estimated to number c.6,000 pairs, roughly equivalent to 18,000 individuals. Conservatively, this is taken to constitute 25-49% of the species's range, so a very preliminary estimate of the overall population size is 36,000-72,000 individuals. It is precautionarily placed in the band 20,000-49,999 individuals.
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to extensive clearance and degradation of forest across its range.
Malaconotus lagdeni has a disjunct distribution in West and Central Africa, from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo in the west and Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Central Africa (Dowsett and Forbes-Watson 1993). The type specimen was collected from forest near Kumasi in Ghana in the 1884, but following this there were no confirmed sight records in the country during the 20th century (Fry et al. 2000, F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R.J. Dowsett in litt. 2005, Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2009). In February 2005, two birds were located in the proposed Kyabobo National Park, on the border with Togo in eastern Ghana (F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R.J. Dowsett in litt. 2005). In Togo, there is a sight record on the Pagala to Ghana road in 1990 (Fry et al. 2000). In Sierra Leone it is rare, in Liberia it has been estimated there may be over 6,000 pairs (Gatter 1997), while in Côte d'Ivoire it is rare in Taï National Park (M. Gartshore in litt. 1999) and scarce in Yapo Forest (Demey and Fishpool 1994). In Nyungwe Forest, Rwanda, it is very rare, but is more common in the drier forests of Gishwati to the north and in Bwindi Forest in Uganda (Dowsett-Lemaire 1990). In the eastern DRC it occurs in montane forest from 1,400-3,300 m where it is quite rare (Lippens and Wille 1976).
The species inhabits the middle strata and canopy of evergreen rainforest, in lowland areas in West Africa and montane areas in Central Africa (Fry et al. 2000). In the Rift Valley mountains it is found up to 2,500 m (Fry et al. 2000). Two birds recorded in the proposed Kyabobo National Park in 2005 were in semi-evergreen rainforest at 300-500 m (F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R.J. Dowsett in litt. 2005). It is most numerous in undisturbed forest, but nevertheless occurs in lightly and sometimes heavily logged forest (Fry et al. 2000). It forages by gleaning branches for invertebrates and also takes small vertebrates, including frogs, lizards and birds. The only nest seen well was a bowl of dry leaves and bracken, 3.5 m above the ground in the forks of a small tree. Its clutch-size may be two. The species's breeding season is unclear, but observations from across its range suggest breeding activity from July to January, at least (Fry et al. 2000).
It it expected that the species is affected by commercial logging operations in the Upper Guinea region (Anon. 2000), in particular, and clearance for agriculture and subsistence-level timber harvesting across its range. In the Upper Guinea region logging operations attract settlers, who in turn increase the threat of forest encroachment for small-holder cultivation (Anon. 2000).
Conservation Actions Underway
The species has been recorded in several protected areas.
Text account compilers
O'Brien, A., Robertson, P., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Westrip, J.
Dowsett, R., Dowsett-Lemaire, F. & Gartshore, M.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Malaconotus lagdeni. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/07/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/07/2020.