Mount Cameroon Francolin Pternistis camerunensis


Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Endangered because it has a very small range, being found on one mountain only, where it faces increasing threats from human-induced burning of its habitat and the retreating forest/savanna boundary in some places.

Population justification
The population is estimated at 648-1,134 individuals (4-7 individuals/km2 x 162 km2 [85% of EOO]), but it is likely to be at upper end of this range as it was described as 'common' during fieldwork in 1984, and hence is best placed in the range 1,000-2,499 individuals. This equates to 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals. Density range from lower to upper quartile of five estimates for four forest-dwelling congeners in BirdLife Population Densities Spreadsheet.

Trend justification
During survey work in 1984, it was found to be common. However, recent sightings have been irregular and are usually of single pairs (J. Acworth in litt. 1999) and the species is judged to have been scarce since 1996 at least (F. Njie in litt. 2006). These observations, coupled with continuing pressures from habitat degradation and hunting, mean that the species is suspected to be in decline at an unquantified rate.

Distribution and population

Pternistis camerunensis is found on Mt Cameroon, Cameroon, where it is restricted to the south-east and north-east slopes. During survey work in 1984, it was found to be common, especially on the southern slopes of the mountain. Recent sightings have been irregular and are usually of single pairs (J. Acworth in litt. 1999). It is judged to have been scarce since 1996 at least, and it has been noted that some records could relate to the Scaly Francolin P. squamatus (F. Njie in litt. 2007).


It inhabits dense undergrowth in primary forest and clearings between 850-2,100 m. It appears able to tolerate secondary forest and has been observed in savanna-scrub habitat following forest burning (J. Acworth in litt. 1999). It feeds on berries, grass seeds and insects and breeds during the dry season, with birds laying between October and December.


While fire is a naturally occurring phenomenon on Mt Cameroon and lava-flows occur about every 20 years, it is the regular burning of grassland by hunters that is probably the greatest threat to the species, causing the destruction of both eggs and young birds (J. Acworth in litt. 1999). Recurrent bush fires destroy forest, particularly on the south-east slopes (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 1999). Clearance is an additional problem, notably on the east side of the mountain where it is extensive and could become more serious, with hunting posing a relatively insignificant (but continuing) threat. The species and its eggs may be targeted by hunters and other people (F. Njie in litt. 2007).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
There is an internationally-funded conservation and development project on Mt Cameroon, though efforts to date have mainly concentrated on lowland areas threatened with clearance for plantation agriculture (J. Acworth in litt. 1999). With the technical and financial support of international partner organisations, the Mount Cameroon National Park was created by the Government of Cameroon in December 2009, covering approximately 58,178 hectares (WWF 2010).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Design and evaluate a robust survey technique, perhaps based on playback of vocalisations. Collect detailed distributional information including any evidence of fragmentation. Determine its habitat use more precisely. Control/regulate human-induced burning of grasslands. Investigate the effects of threats (e.g. grassfires, hunting) within the Mount Cameroon and Mokoko-Onge IBA.


33 cm. Terrestrial gamebird with red bill and legs. Male greyish below with warm brown upperparts and diagnostic red bill, eye-surround, legs and feet. Female has similar coloured soft parts but plumage mottled brown below with heavily barred upperparts. Immature resembles female but is barred, not streaked, below. Similar spp. Scaly Francolin F. squamatus has darker underparts and lacks bare red skin around the eyes. Voice Highly distinctive, described as high-pitched, triple whistle. Hints On Mt Cameroon, on the south-east slopes above Buea and Musake, can be seen on tracks at first light, especially after a night of heavy rain.


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Keane, A., Shutes, S., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.

Acworth, J., Davies, G., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Fotso, R., Njie, F. & Whytock, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Pternistis camerunensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/09/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/09/2020.