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 and which approaches the threshold for classification as Vulnerable.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 10,000-40,000 individuals, divided into more than five subpopulations, each of which is fragmented and declining. This range roughly equates to 6,600-27,000 mature individuals. Estimates of population density in the Venezuelan llanos vary, with 80-160.7 individuals / km2 in riparian forest and 2.7-43.7 individuals / km2 in dry forest, both in the dry season.

Trend justification
A slow and on-going population decline is suspected owing to hunting for food and sport and habitat loss and fragmentation.

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 & 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 & Barreto 2008). It rarely strays more than 250m from forest cover (Buchholz & Bertsch 2006).


Subsistence hunting is thought to be the major cause of its continuing decline in Colombia (Buchholz & Bertsch 2006), although studies are lacking (Franco-Maya and Renjifo 2002). It is heavily hunted for both food and sport in Venezuela, where parks and reserves are often focal points for local hunters (Silva and Strahl 1991, Strahl et al. 1994, Strahl and Silva 1997), and is included in the Venezuelan sport-hunting calendar by the Venezuelan government (Buchholz & Bertsch 2006). In areas where hunting is eliminated, populations recover slowly but can grow large (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 & 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 (Sharpe in litt. 2011) jeopardises the future of some of the most important sub-populations in Venezuela (Polisar 2000, Bertsch & Barreto 2008). It was considered Vulnerable in a recent global assessment published by the IUCN-SSC Cracid Specialist Group (Buchholz & Bertsch 2006), and is classified as Vulnerable and Near Threatened in Colombia and Venezuela respectively (Renjifo et al. 2002, Sharpe 2008).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
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 & Bertsch 2006).


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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Crax daubentoni. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/07/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/07/2019.