Western Wattled Cuckooshrike Lobotos lobatus


Justification of Red List Category
Despite its apparent adaptation to secondary habitat, this species is seriously threatened by the massive forest destruction taking place across its range. Its population may well be declining rapidly. In addition, apparent declines in the well-preserved Gola Forest are unexplained. Due to the suspected rapid overall population decline, this species is classified as Vulnerable.

Population justification
In Liberia, the population has been estimated at a minimum of 20,000 pairs (Gatter 1997) and thus, the total population has been placed in the range 20,000-49,999 individuals. However, the number given for Liberia may be a significant overestimate (J. Lindsell in litt. 2012), on one hand because the species may be absent from apparently suitable forest, on the other hand because the overall population may have experienced serious declines over the past three generations (14 years). New data are therefore required to refine this population estimate.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be declining in line with high rates of forest clearance within the species's range. A population decline was evident in the Gola Forest in Sierra Leone by 1988-1989 (Allport et al. 1989). The species was seen twice during extensive surveys in 2007 (F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R. J. Dowsett per E. Klop in litt. 2007) and not since, while it was still seen frequently in the 1970s (J. Lindsell in litt. 2007, 2012). Reasons for the apparent decline in the Gola Forest are unknown, as there are no obvious changes in forest structure (J. Lindsell in litt. 2012).

Distribution and population

Lobotos lobataus is endemic to the Upper Guinea forests of West Africa, where it is known from Ghana (very few recent records, but reported from Bia National Park in 2001 [Pender 2013], Kakum National Park in 2010 [H. Bouman in litt. 2010], Bonkoro [Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2014], and Atewa Forest in 2013 [J. Lindsell in litt. 2016]), Côte d'Ivoire (Taï and Marahoué National Parks, Mopri, Mt Nimba and Haute Dodo Forest Reserve [H. Rainey in litt. 2007]), Liberia (widespread), Guinea (several observations in Ziama Forest in 1992 [Bützler 1996] and Pic de Fon and Mont Béro Forest Reserves [H. Rainey in litt. 2007]) and Sierra Leone (Gola Forest, where it appears to have suffered a serious decline [Allport et al. 1989]). In Liberia, it has recently been described as a locally rare to uncommon resident, whilst the population in 1997 was estimated to be a minimum of 20,000 pairs (Gatter 1997). In Côte d'Ivoire, recent sightings in Taï National Park suggest that the species is secure there (Gartshore et al. 1995). In Sierra Leone, surveys of Gola Forest in 1988-1989 indicated a population decline (Allport et al. 1989). In 2007, the species was seen there twice during extensive surveys, with both records from the southern part of Gola Central (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2008, Klop et al. 2010), but not recorded since (J. Lindsell in litt. 2012). Although the species is now considered rare at this site, it may easily be overlooked owing to its discreet behaviour (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2008, E. Klop in litt. 2007).


The species occurs in the canopy of tall trees in lowland rainforest, up to 600 m in Pic de Fon and Mont Béro Forest Reserves in Guinea (H. Rainey in litt. 2007) and 700 m in Atewa, Ghana (J. Lindsell in litt. 2016). It is sometimes found near to rivers, but also in open swamp-forest (Allport et al. 1989, Gartshore et al. 1995, Gatter 1997). However, it would seem to tolerate some habitat alteration, as observations in Liberia have been in both primary and logged forest (usually at heights of between 30-50 m [Gatter 1997]) and in Côte d'Ivoire, it has been observed in Terminalia ivorensis plantations, natural managed forest and disturbed forest (Gartshore et al. 1995). In addition, during surveys in 2007, one bird was observed in a patch of Gola Forest that had been seriously damaged by hurricanes (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2008). It is also known to breed in mature logged forest (Allport et al. 1989, P. Robertson in litt. 1998). Its diet includes caterpillars, grasshoppers and small black seeds.


Remaining large tracts of forest in Liberia are under intense and increasing pressure from commercial logging and a consequent increase in settlement and smallholder agriculture (Anon. 2000). Elsewhere in the Upper Guinea region, forest survives in fragmented patches, which are under intense pressure for logging and agriculture (Anon. 2000). Disturbance in Gola Forest has compromised areas of habitat once considered primary forest (J. Lindsell in litt. 2007).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species occurs in the Taï National Park and Gola Rainforest National Park, which are among the largest, best-preserved and best-protected areas of Upper Guinea forest (J. Lindsell in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys to determine the species's status in Gola Forest (H. S. Thompson in litt. 1999, E. Klop in litt. 2007). Obtain an up-to-date estimate of the total population. Monitor rates of forest clearance across the species's range. In Taï National Park, take measures to mitigate the effects of rapid land-use changes outside the park (Gartshore et al. 1995). In Taï National Park and Gola Rainforest National Park, ensure that future conservation includes 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). Ensure forest connectivity is maintained between Gola Rainforest National Park in Sierra Leone and Gola National Forest in Liberia (J. Lindsell in litt. 2012). Ensure effective management of Taï National Park and peripheral forests, e.g. Haute Dodo and Cavally Forest Reserves (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). Lobby for inclusion of Nzo Faunal Reserve within Taï National Park boundaries (H. Rainey in litt. 2007).


21 cm. Brightly coloured bird. Male has black head with green back, yellowish or orange underparts with bright orange gape which makes it unmistakable. Female slightly duller than male. Similar spp. Very similar to forest orioles, but smaller, and has small black, not large red, bill and obvious orange gape. Voice Only call described is a tzzitt in flight. Hints It is an inconspicuous bird, although sometimes observed in mixed-bird parties.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Symes, A., Shutes, S., Westrip, J., Taylor, J., Ekstrom, J.

Lindsell, J., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Thompson, H.S., Bouman, H., Rainey, H., Dowsett, R.J., Robertson, P., Klop, E.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Lobotos lobatus. Downloaded from on 26/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/06/2022.