New Britain Goshawk Accipiter princeps


Justification of Red List category
This species is listed as Vulnerable because remote sensing has revealed that its small population is likely to be declining owing to deforestation.

Population justification
The species is known from four specimens and a handful of recent records and so the global population is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This estimate was supported by Davis et al. in prep..

Trend justification
Buchanan et al. (2008) calculated the rate of forest loss within the species's range on New Britain as 9.5% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Accipiter princeps is endemic to the island of New Britain, Papua New Guinea. It is known from four specimens and a handful of recent records (Diamond 1971, Coates 1990, Clay 1994, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1996, G. Dutson pers. obs 1997-1998, Bishop and Jones 2001). Although the status of the species is difficult to assess, it is undoubtedly scarce and probably declining.


Most of the recent records have come from hill and montane forest from 750 to 1,400 m, but it was recorded once at 200 m (Diamond 1971, Coates 1990, Clay 1994, K. D. Bishop in litt. 1996, G. Dutson pers. obs 1997-1998, Dutson 2011) and there are occasional records from lowland forest, including unconfirmed records down to sea-level (Dutson 2011). Single birds are usually seen perched in subcanopy or flying rather slowly but powerfully through mid-mountain forest.


Whilst lowland forests have been extensively logged and cleared for conversion to oil palm on New Britain, there is less logging activity in the mountains and no oil palm. Remote sensing suggested that about 9.5% of forest within the species’ altitudinal range was being lost over 30 years (three generations; Buchanan et al. 2008). Less detailed analysis is available for later years but about 2.2% of forest was lost plus 5.2% degraded across New Britain between 2002 and 2014 (Bryan and Shearman 2015). It is inferred that forest loss and degradation has slowed but the species’ rate of decline is precautionary retained at the rate measured by Buchanan et al. (2008) pending better data.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Determine best survey techniques. Survey to assess population size by investigating: its status in logged forest; its altitudinal range; and its abundance at different elevations. Employ local hunters to find nests for intensive observation. Map remaining forest, logging concessions, oil palm plantations and proposed expansion areas, and current and proposed mining operations across New Britain.

Build conservation capacity within the region as a precursor to properly assessing the measures needed to safeguard forest. These may include: promoting uptake of environmental certification schemes for products sold in overseas markets; working with extractive industries to reduce and offset the impacts of forest exploitation; community-based forest management; developing national capacity to effectively engage in international conventions and meet obligations, particularly under the Convention on Biological Diversity; engage in forest protection measures under the REDD+ initiative.


Text account compilers
Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., North, A.

Beehler, B., Wilkinson, R., Bishop, K., Bird, J., Dutson, G.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Accipiter princeps. Downloaded from on 21/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/02/2024.