Nilgiri Laughingthrush Trochalopteron cachinnans


Justification of Red List Category
This laughingthrush has a very small and severely fragmented range which is declining rapidly as a result of the conversion of forest habitats to plantations, agriculture and settlements. It therefore qualifies as Endangered.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Populations are suspected to be in slow decline owing to the degradation and loss of habitat across the species's range. The overall rate of decline is expected to be slow in the next ten years.

Distribution and population

Trochalopteron cachinnans is endemic to southern India. It is predominantly found in the Nilgiri Hills, and a smaller disjunct population (200-250 individuals) was recently discovered in the Elival-Muthikkulam-Palamala range of Palakkad-Siruvani Hills, Kerala (del Hoyo et al. 2007, Nameer et al. 2007). It was generally common or abundant across its range at the start of the 20th century, while recent observations clearly indicate it to be locally common, but otherwise uncommon or rare.


Behaviour Nesting occurs between January and July with a clutch of two or three eggs (del Hoyo et al. 2007). Habitat It is a sedentary resident, inhabiting dense undergrowth and moist, shady lower storey vegetation of evergreen and semi-evergreen forest, especially densely wooded ravines and hollows (sholas) and forest edge, always above 1,200 m, but generally higher than 1,600 m. It also occurs in gardens, patches of natural scrub, and hill guava trees Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, and is absent or uncommon in Eucalyptus, tea and Acacia plantations. Population densities are high in intact forest, but are roughly halved in disturbed forest (del Hoyo et al. 2007). Diet It feeds on invertebrates, nectar, flowers, fruits and berries (del Hoyo et al. 2007).


Large-scale conversion of forest into plantations, reservoirs, crops and human settlements are the main threats. Commercial plantations of tea, Eucalyptus and Acacia have been increasing in area across its range. Between 1961 and 1988, 47% of evergreen/semi-evergreen forest was lost in the Kerala portion of the Western Ghats, whilst there were increases in plantation and deciduous forest cover of 6% and 7.5% respectively (del Hoyo et al. 2007). The indiscriminate use of inorganic pesticides may also be a problem (Zarri 2005). Having a montane distribution that is close to the maximum altitude within its range, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change (BirdLife International unpublished data).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in Mukurti National Park in Tamil Nadu and a rather small part of its range is encompassed by the upper reaches of the Silent Valley National Park, Kerala. Some sholas in the Upper Nilgiris are afforded partial protection as reserve forests and are included in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, although these receive considerably less protection than national parks (del Hoyo et al. 2007). There have been some moves to stop further conversion of natural forests and grasslands into plantations in Tamil Nadu. A new protected area in the Muthikulam-Elival-Palamala Range, Muthikkulam Wildlife Sanctuary, has been proposed.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Regularly monitor populations at selected sites and develop a database of information for formulating conservation management strategies for different areas. Support extension of the boundaries of Mukurti National Park. Campaign for a moratorium on conversion of remaining natural forests to plantations in the Nilgiris. Promote community-based conservation initiatives focusing on restoration of natural habitats in the Nilgiris, including protection of undergrowth and shrubs in existing old plantations. Initiate conservation awareness programmes in the Nilgiris. Designate suitable parts of the Muthikulam-Elival-Palamala Range as protected areas.



Text account compilers
Taylor, J., Allinson, T, Gilroy, J., Calvert, R., Benstead, P., Westrip, J.

Rahmani, A., Praveen, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Trochalopteron cachinnans. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/11/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/11/2019.