Short-tailed Babbler Pellorneum malaccense


Justification of Red List category
This species is considered Near Threatened as it is suspected to be declining moderately rapidly throughout its range owing to the rapid clearance and degradation of lowland forests. The magnitude of these declines may be allayed by the persistence of populations in secondary growth and logged forests.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as fairly common to common (Robson 2000). Density estimates vary from 87-270 individuals/km2 in forest, with densities highest in interior forest, and lowest near forest edge (Fogden 1976, Moradi & Mohamed 2010). Densities in other habitat types are unknown, as such it is not possible to generate a global population estimate; however, given the densities in forest and its pan-Sundaic range, its population is unlikely to approach population thresholds (<10,000 mature individuals) for listing as threatened.

Trend justification
Estimations on rates of population decline in this species are lacking. However, given its moderate forest dependence, an ongoing rapid decline is inferred on the basis of extensive lowland forest loss throughout the Greater Sundas. Global Forest Watch (2021) data indicate forest loss of c.22-26% in the past 3 generations, and these rates are not anticipated to cease or slow in the future. Although its tolerance of secondary forest and overgrown plantations may allay some of these impacts, densities are up to three times lower at forest edge compared to the interior (Moradi & Mohamed 2010) and so it is likely habitat degradation and fragmentation detrimentally affect this species also. It is therefore suspected to undergo a decline near-equal to that of forest loss: population declines of 20-29% are therefore suspected to have occurred over the past 3 generations, and are predicted to continue in the future.

Distribution and population

Malacocincla malaccensis is known from the Sundaic lowlands, accurring in south Tenasserim, Myanmar; Peninsular Thailand; Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia; Singapore; Kalimantan (including Natunas and Anamba islands) and Sumatra (including offshore islands), Indonesia, and Brunei, where it is generally very common in suitable habitat.


This species occurs in lowland evergreen forest, including swamp forest, up to 1,000 m (Collar & Robson 2020). Although recorded in dense second growth, overgrown plantations, scrub and streamside thickets, this species is commonest in primary forest and is most abundant away from forest edge (Moradi & Mohamed 2010).


Rates of forest loss in the Sundaic lowlands have been extremely rapid - equivalent to c.25% over three generations (Global Forest Watch 2021) - owing partly to the escalation of illegal logging and land conversion, with deliberate targeting of all remaining stands of valuable timber including those inside protected areas. Forest fires are also likely damaging. The magnitude of these threats may be allayed partially by this species's tolerance of logged forest and secondary habitats, however it is likely to be severely affected by fragmentation, with densities up to three times lower at forest edge than in the interior (Moradi & Mohamed 2010).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known for this species, although it occurs in a number of protected areas.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct repeated surveys within the range to identify population trends and rates of habitat loss. Conduct ecological studies to improve our understanding of its precise habitat requirements, tolerance of secondary habitats and response to fragmentation. Improve the management of any protected areas within the species's range that are suffering encroachment. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status. Implement measures to reduce the number and severity of forest fires. Continue to monitor rates of forest loss using remote sensing data.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Gilroy, J., Khwaja, N., Berryman, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Pellorneum malaccense. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/short-tailed-babbler-pellorneum-malaccense on 28/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org on 28/02/2024.