Mount Cameroon Speirops Zosterops melanocephalus


Justification of Red List category
This species qualifies as Vulnerable on account of its very small range, although it is reportedly common where it occurs and the population is probably stable. However, if threats to its montane habitat continue or increase it may be necessary to uplist it to Endangered.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily estimated to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 individuals. This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Distribution and population

Speirops melanocephalus is restricted to Mt Cameroon, Cameroon, where it is common within a narrow altitudinal belt.


It is found at 1,800-3,000 m in the canopy and mid-strata of more open parts of the forest and in scattered trees within the grassland (C. Bowden in litt. 1999), avoiding denser, closed-canopy areas. At its lower altitudinal limit it is found only in clearings. It is very noticeable at the upper forest-grassland boundary, above this occurring in patches of bush and thicket.


While fire is a naturally occurring phenomenon on Mt Cameroon and lava-flows occur about every 20 years, the regular burning of grassland by hunters, which extend to destroy large areas of forest, is probably the greatest threat to the species within its narrow altitudinal belt (J. Acworth in litt. 1999, E. M. O'Kah in litt. 1999). Deforestation is occurring in the vicinity of Mount Cameroon National Park, but this is occurring in lowland forest predominantly outside the National Park (The Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife 2014) so this is unlikely to be a threat currently.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
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
Conduct surveys to assess the current population size (E. M. O'Kah in litt. 1999) and exact distribution on Mt Cameroon (F. Njie in litt. 2007). Take measures to control forest-fires (E. M. O'Kah in litt. 1999).


12 cm. Small, warbler-like bird with conspicuous white throat, forehead and lores, and narrow white eye-ring. Remainder of head blackish. Brown upperparts. Greyish underparts with tawny wash. White thighs. Voice Sharp, strong, flutey whistled song and various churring contact calls. Hints Easily found above 2,000 m on Mt Cameroon in low shrubs and heath.


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

Acworth, J., Bowden, C., Njie, F., O'Kah, E. & Whytock, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Zosterops melanocephalus. Downloaded from on 03/03/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 03/03/2024.