Yellow-knobbed Curassow Crax daubentoni


Justification of Red List Category
This species qualifies as Near Threatened because it has a small population, which is suspected to be declining significantly owing to hunting and habitat loss.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 10,000-40,000 individuals. This roughly equates to 6,600-27,000 mature individuals. Estimates of population density in the Venezuelan llanos vary, with 80-160 individuals/km2 in riparian forest and 2.7-43.7 individuals/km2 in dry forest, both in the dry season (Brooks 2006). The species is divided into more than five subpopulations, each of which is fragmented and declining.

Trend justification
A slow and ongoing population decline is inferred owing to hunting for food and sport and habitat loss and fragmentation. An analysis of forest loss from 2000 to 2012 found that forest within the species's range was lost at a rate equivalent to 9% over three generation lengths (Tracewski et al. 2016). Given that hunting is also likely to be contributing to declines, the population is suspected to be declining at 10-15% across three generations (34.5 years).

Distribution and population

Crax daubentoni occurs in north Venezuela (north of the río Orinoco), and at a few scattered localities in north-east Colombia (west foothills of Sierra de Perijá from Montes de Oca south to Fonseca, and east of the Andes from east Norte de Santander south to north-west Arauca (Hilty and Brown 1986, Strahl et al. 1994). In Venezuela, it currently occupies less than 50% of its historical distribution, and as little as 30% and 40% in the Cordillera de la Costa and Llanos respectively (Buchholz and Bertsch 2006). 


It is primarily restricted to gallery forests in the llanos, but also lowland deciduous and evergreen forest, and foothills up to 800 m in Venezuela and 500-1,500 m in Colombia (del Hoyo 1994, Strahl et al. 1994, Strahl and Silva 1997, Bertsch and Barreto 2008). It rarely strays more than 250 m from forest cover (Buchholz and Bertsch 2006).


Subsistence hunting is thought to be the major cause of its continuing decline in Colombia (Buchholz and Bertsch 2006), although studies are lacking (Renjifo et al. 2002). It is heavily hunted for both food and sport in Venezuela, where parks and reserves are often focal points for local hunters (Strahl et al. 1994, Strahl and Silva 1997), and is included in the Venezuelan sport-hunting calendar by the Venezuelan government (Buchholz and Bertsch 2006). In areas where hunting is eliminated, populations recover slowly, but can grow large (C. J. Sharpe in litt. 2011). Agricultural development has fragmented gallery forests and, in many parts of the llanos, there has been extensive conversion to rice fields (del Hoyo 1994, Strahl et al. 1994). A study of land cover changes from 1990-1999 shows that the Venezuelan Llanos continue to be deforested or degraded, leaving few large or medium-sized patches of critical habitat for the species (Buchholz and Bertsch 2006). The recent change in the management objectives of former private nature reserves such as Hato Piñero, Hato El Frío and Hato El Cedral (C. J. Sharpe in litt. 2011) jeopardises the future of some of the most important sub-populations in Venezuela (Bertsch and Barreto 2008).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway

The species is considered Vulnerable in a recent global assessment published by the IUCN-SSC Cracid Specialist Group (Buchholz and Bertsch 2006), and is classified as Endangered and Near Threatened in Colombia and Venezuela, respectively (Sharpe 2008, Renjifo et al. 2016).

Conservation Actions Proposed

Effectively enforce hunting restrictions in protected areas. Survey known and historical sites to determine the size of each of the remaining subpopulations. Conduct satellite photograph analysis of forest cover changes to identify suitably large and connected habitat patches. Establish educational programmes for hunters, modelled on those used successfully in Venezuela. Conduct a long-term demographic study of a protected population (e.g. at Hato Piñero) so that fecundity, mortality and dispersal data can be collected for population viability analysis (Buchholz and Bertsch 2006).


Text account compilers
Wheatley, H., Clay, R.P., Benstead, P., Sharpe, C.J., Capper, D., Symes, A.

Sharpe, C J

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Crax daubentoni. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/09/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/09/2022.