VU
Somali Ostrich Struthio molybdophanes



Justification

Justification of Red List Category
This newly-split species is suspected to be undergoing a rapid decline over three generations (50 years) given the apparent severity of a variety of threats including hunting for feathers and food, egg collection and habitat loss and degradation. It has therefore been listed as Vulnerable, but better information on population trends and the scope and severity of threats is highly desirable.

Population justification
The population size has not been quantified owing to recent taxonomic splits.

Trend justification
No trend data are available, but the given the apparently severity of threats including hunting for feathers and food, egg collection and habitat loss and degradation, the species is precautionarily suspected to be undergoing a rapid decline over three generations (50 years).

Distribution and population

Struthio molybdophanes is found in north-east Africa, with its range incorporating EthiopiaSomalia, Djibouti and Kenya (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Numbers have noticeably decreased since the late 1980s, with total disappearance from some areas, although flocks of 40 are still seen in the southern Danakil (Ash and Atkins 2009).

Ecology

The species is often encountered alone or in pairs in a variety of habitats including semi-arid and arid grassland, dense thornbush and woodland (Davies 2002, Ash and Atkins 2009).

Threats

Ash and Atkins (2009) document threats to and apparent declines in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The eggs are used as ornaments, water containers and symbols or protective devices on churches and graves, birds are shot for target practice, food, leather and feathers, and chased to exhaustion or death by drivers. Habitat loss and degradation undoubtedly represents a further threat.

Conservation actions

Conservation and research actions in place

Conservation and research actions proposed
Obtain population and trend estimates, and ascertain severity of threats. Combat hunting and egg collecting via awareness-raising campaigns.

Identification

Male 210-275 cm, 100-156 kg, female 175-190 cm, 90-110 kg. Huge flightless bird with massive bare legs and long bare neck and head. Loose plumage is solidly black in the male apart from the bright white tail and small wings. Females are dark brown. Similar spp. to S. camelus but bare areas are blue-grey, eyes are pale grey-brown and the plumage is blacker in the male. The female is more similar to S. camelus, but always has blue-grey eyes.

Acknowledgements

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Martin, R, Symes, A., Taylor, J., Westrip, J.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Struthio molybdophanes. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/10/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/10/2020.