Madagascar Wood-rail Mentocrex kioloides


Justification of Red List category
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km² combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population size is unknown and as such cannot be assessed under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The population size was previously suspected to number 1,000-2,000 individuals, however it is now considered unlikely to be that small given the range and spread of recent records. With little quantitative data available the current population size is considered unknown. 

The subspecies M. k. kioloides was regarded as common around 1930, but has since faced continued habitat destruction (Taylor 2021). M. k. berliozi is restricted to small areas of threatened forest, but is thought to be fairly common within these (Taylor 2021).

Trend justification
Both subspecies are experiencing ongoing habitat destruction and the overall population is suspected to be in decline as a result (de Hoyo et al. 1996). Over three generations (15.18 years), an estimated 16% of tree cover has been lost (Global Forest Watch 2021, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein), and in view of ongoing threats these declines are likely to continue. As this species is highly forest dependent, it is assumed that population declines may be roughly equivalent to this rate of habitat loss.

Distribution and population

This species is endemic to Madagascar, where it is known broadly across the eastern length of the island (M. k. kioloides), and the Sambirano area of the northwest (M. k. berliozi).


This species is a sedentary endemic of Madagascar, where the nominate form is widely distributed across the eastern humid forest, from near sea level to 2,000 m (Taylor and van Perlo 1998, Goodman et al. 2011). The second subspecies (M. k. berliozi) is found in lowland humid-dry deciduous forest on the northwest of the island (Goodman et al. 2011). The species shows a preference for forest habitats characterised by open understoreys and substrates of leaf-litter (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). It frequents water courses and reedy or papyrus-grown edges of ponds and marshes within primary and adjoining secondary rainforest with sparse herbaceous ground-cover (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It has also been observed in dry deciduous forest established on a karst subtratum (Langrand 1990). Its diet is little known (Langrand 1990), but foods such as insects, amphibians and seeds have been recorded (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It breeds May-June, or November, and normally forages in pairs, or less frequently alone (Langrand 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996). The nest is a bowl of grass and leaves placed in a bush or a tangle of creepers (lianas) 2-3 m above the ground (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Very little is known about this species social organisation or aggregatory behaviour (Langrand 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998).


The species is threatened by forest destruction from slash-and-burn agricultural practices, timber exploitation for firewood and clearance for rice and coffee plantations (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Over three generations (15.18 years), an estimated 16% of tree cover has been lost (Global Forest Watch 2021, using Hansen et al. [2013] data and methods disclosed therein).

Conservation actions

Conservation and Research Actions in Place
The species occurs in the Special Reserve of Manongarivo, where the forest is largely intact.

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Carry out further research to produce a robust estimate of the overall population size, and monitor population trends.


Text account compilers
Rotton, H.

Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Hawkins, F. & Malpas, L.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Mentocrex kioloides. Downloaded from on 27/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/09/2023.