Justification of Red List Category
This species is highly dependent on closed-canopy primary forest and probably depends on forest containing large emergent trees. Its population is likely to be declining rapidly, in line with the massive destruction of lowland forest in the region, and it is therefore classified as Vulnerable.
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.
The species's population is suspected to be declining rapidly, in line with high levels of forest clearance and degradation across the species's range.
Melaenornis annamarulae is endemic to the Upper Guinea rainforest block of West Africa, where it is known from Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. In Guinea, the species was previously known from Ziama (Urban et al. 1997), Déré Forest Reserve in 2003 (R. Demey in litt. 2007, H. Rainey in litt. 2007), and Pic de Fon, before a search in the south-east of the country in 2010 found a total of 15 pairs at four of seven sites surveyed: Douama (Binikala Sous-Préfecture), Sengbedou-Macenta Sous-Préfecture, Tétini Forest Reserve and Mount Béro Forest Reserve (Condé and Soumah 2010). In Sierra Leone, it occurs in Gola Forest (two records in the late 1980s, c.475-690 birds estimated [Allport et al. 1989]; only one record in 2005-2007, thus very rare [E. Klop in litt. 2007, J. Lindsell in litt. 2007]), while in northern Liberia there are few records, including the foot of Mt Nimba, Grebo (R. Demey in litt. 2007), Glaro and Wologizi (Gatter 1997). In Côte d'Ivoire, it is known from Taï National Park, Mont Péko National Park, Haute Dodo Forest Reserve (H. Rainey in litt. 2007), La Téné Forest Reserve, Mopri (Gartshore et al. 1995) and Marahoué National Park (P. Christy per L. D. C. Fishpool verbally 1998). In Ghana, it was discovered in Atewa Range Forest Reserve in June 2006, followed by further records in 2007 and 2010 (Demey and Hester 2008, Borrow 2010). In Taï National Park, it occurs at an estimated four birds per km2 (with a record from degraded land at the edge of the park) (Gartshore et al. 1995). It is generally rare throughout its range and difficult to detect, as it is a canopy species (H. Rainey in litt. 2007).
It is found in the upper strata and canopy of closed-canopy lowland primary forest (P. Robertson in litt. 1998). In Liberia, it occurs up to 600 m (Gatter 1997), and sightings in Atewa Range Forest Reserve, Ghana, may be up to 800 m (J. Lindsell in litt. 2016). In Côte d'Ivoire, it is also found in large leafless trees on inselbergs and in clearings planted with maize (Urban et al. 1997), and has been observed in disturbed primary forest in Mont Péko National Park (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). It may be limited by the availability of emergent trees on which it forages, which are characteristic of transitional and deciduous lowland rainforest (Gartshore et al. 1995). It feeds on insects. Breeding is believed to take place during the wet season in July and August.
Remaining large tracts of forest in Liberia are under intense and increasing pressure from commercial logging and a consequent increase in settlement and small-holder agriculture (Anon. 2000). Déré Forest Reserve in Guinea is highly threatened by clearance for small-holder farms, with an estimated 90% of the forest already destroyed by 2003 (R. Demey in litt. 2007, H. Rainey in litt. 2007). Elsewhere in the Upper Guinea region, forest survives in fragmented patches, which are under intense pressure for logging and agriculture (Anon. 2000). In Ghana, Atewa Range Forest Reserve has been logged in the past, transects have been cut for mineral exploration, and now mining for bauxite is being considered (Demey and Hester 2008).
Conservation Actions Underway
In Sierra Leone, Gola Rainforest National Park is currently well protected (J. Lindsell in litt. 2012). There are attempts to improve the protection of Gola National Forest in Liberia and ensure connectivity with Gola Rainforest National Park in Sierra Leone (J. Lindsell in litt. 2012). Taï National Park and periphery habitat in south-west Côte d'Ivoire is one of the largest and best-preserved areas of Upper Guinea forest and probably contains one of the largest remaining populations of the species, given the intensity of habitat clearance elsewhere and the species's rarity in Ghana (H. Rainey in litt. 2007).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct population surveys (H. S. Thompson in litt. 1999), particularly in eastern Liberia (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). Carry out ecological studies, particularly to learn more of its breeding ecology (H. S. Thompson in litt. 1999). In Taï National Park, take measures to conserve the park and adjoining forest reserves including reducing encroachment (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). In Taï National Park and Gola Forest, ensure that future studies include support for local people to contribute to research, management and tourism in and around the park (Gartshore et al. 1995, H. S. Thompson in litt. 1999).
20-22 cm. Large, all-black flycatcher. In the field appears matt black but in direct sunlight has deep-blue cast to plumage. Similar spp. Could be confused with Square-tailed Drongo Dicrurus ludwigii, but differs by lacking notched tail and in behaviour and habitat. Voice Song consists of short, varied phrases of loud ringing notes. Calls include thin weep weep and soft churrings. Hints Occurs singly, in pairs or groups of 3-6 birds, preferring the canopy.
Text account compilers
Starkey, M., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Ekstrom, J., Westrip, J.
Christy, P., Rainey, H., Demey, R., Robertson, P., Klop, E., Lindsell, J., Fishpool, L.
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Melaenornis annamarulae. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/01/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/01/2020.