Sumatran Leafbird Chloropsis media


Justification of Red List Category
The population is considered to be declining at a rapid rate due to trapping for the cage bird trade in conjunction with habitat loss throughout the range. For this reason, the species is listed as Endangered.

Population justification
The population size is unknown, and due to the severe trapping pressure exerted on the species it is not possibly to extrapolate suitable density figures across an estimated area of suitable habitat. Previously Sumatran Leafbird was considered likely to be common within range on Sumatra but poorly known (del Hoyo et al. 2005). However, while rates of bird trapping were high, a surge in popularity in leafbirds, especially Greater Green C. sonnerati, occurred from 2012 onwards resulting in exceptionally high numbers being trapped and traded (Chng et al. 2017) with increases in all leafbird species traded. Sumatra has been heavily targeted by trappers since the ban on international imports following the Avian Influenza outbreak in 2001. Observations of Sumatran Leafbird are now very few, widely scattered across the former range (J. Eaton in litt. 2016), and the population is certainly much reduced.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be suffering a very rapid declining in population due to trapping for the cage bird trade, coupled with ongoing habitat destruction. A process of expert review classified the species as 'Severely Declining' (Harris et al. 2015), and a modelling approach to estimating potential rates of decline based on accessibility of the range and desirability of the species calculated that the species could be suspected to decline by 72% due to hunting within the next three-generation period (Symes et al. 2018).

Distribution and population

This species is endemic to Sumatra (Indonesia), where it is found in the uplands, from Aceh south through the Barisan Range to Selatan. Observations are now very few, widely scattered across the former range (J. Eaton in litt. 2016).


This species occurs in the middle and upper strata of lowland evergreen forest, secondary forest, plantations and village orchards from 600-1000 m (Wells 2005), but has not been demonstrated to enter montane forest (Wells 2016).


All leafbirds are targeted for the cage bird trade in Indonesia, and Sumatran Leafbird has been observed in markets in Java, Sumatra and in the European bird trade (Wells 2005). Habitat destruction throughout Sumatra has granted trappers access to most areas within the range (Harris et al. 2015).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions in Place

The species occurs in some protected areas, but they are not enforced and trapping still occurs. The species has been added to the list of protected species in Indonesia, making trade in the species illegal without a quota. 

Research Actions Needed

Regular and visible monitoring of species densities, linked to national government obligations under international agreements. Estimates of populations in areas known to be trapped are required. Repeat surveys from forest blocks with bird density/encounter rate information from previous work. Research to understand species density responses of passerine birds to trapping. Continue monitoring a sample of bird markets and suppliers throughout the range: numbers, price and attitudes of sellers. Investigate the opportunity cost of trapping versus supplying captive-bred birds. Assess deforestation rates annually.

Conservation Actions Needed

Enforcement of national law restricting trade to species with quotas and compliance with quotas is required. Management of protected areas should include management of trapping activities. Legal clarification is required that protected areas are also 'no-trapping' areas, and ensuring enforcement of at least a core refuge zone. Enforcement of protected species status, and of provincial quotas, should they be introduced, will be essential. Lobby for bird competitions to restrict entry to captive-sourced birds and to instigate an industry code of conduct to prevent harm to wild populations. Petition for adding the species to CITES appendix II.


17-18cm. A yellow-hued leafbird, with very yellow underparts and clear yellow crown. Males have a black mask extending to the lower throat with a vivid purple jawline, while the female completely lacks a mask, has a yellow eyelid rim and has a turquoise jawline flash. Both have electric blue carpal patches


Text account compilers
Temple, H., Martin, R.

Chng, S. & Eaton, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Chloropsis media. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/04/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/04/2020.