Yellow-throated Apalis Apalis flavigularis


Justification of Red List Category
This species is considered Endangered as it has a very small and severely fragmented range, along the perimeter of which its forest habitat is being rapidly degraded and destroyed.  Although the current population may prove to be significantly larger than previously realised, the granting of a mining concession covering the whole of Mt Mulanje in late 2011 could have disastrous implications for the future survival of the species.

Population justification
The population is estimated at 2,320-4,408 individuals (10-19 individuals/km2 x 232 km2 [45% EOO]), i.e. best placed in band 2,500-9,999 individuals.  This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.  Density range from lower quartile to mean of four estimates for ten congeners in BirdLife Population Density Spreadsheet.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline at a moderate rate, owing to continuing deforestation for agriculture and timber by an increasing human population, and the effects of severe fires (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 1997).

Distribution and population

Apalis flavigularis is restricted to three massifs (Mt Mulanje, Mt Zomba, Mt Malosa) in south-east Malawi, east of the Nyasa-Shire Rift (Benson and Benson 1977).  In 1983, it was considered common within its habitat (Dowsett-Lemaire 1989).  It has been suggested that it may occur on Mt Chiperone in adjacent Mozambique (Urban et al. 1997), but there are no records from this vicinity (Benson 1950) and the species does not occur on similar, smaller mountains in Malawi that are nearer the known range, implying that it is unlikely to occur there (F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R. J. Dowsett in litt. 1999, 2000).  In 2008 surveys estimated a minimum of 7,900 individuals in cedar forest on Mt Mulanje alone, suggesting that the total population on Mulanje is likely to exceed 10,000 individuals (Mzumara et al. 2012).  The granting of a mining concession covering the whole of Mt Mulanje, with exploratory drilling already taking place in late 2011, could however have disastrous implications for the long-term survival of the species.


It is confined to the highest mountains in southern Malawi, spanning 1,000-2,400 m on Mt Mulanje (moving as low as 600-700 m during the non-breeding season, January-August) and 1,400-1,950 m on Mt Zomba and Mt Malosa (Dowsett-Lemaire 1989).  It occurs predominantly in evergreen (but also riparian) forest, and in nearby secondary growth and thickets (F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R. J. Dowsett in litt. 1999, 2000), and was found to favour forest edge and occur in patches as small as 0.01 ha (Mzumara et al. 2012).  It builds a domed nest of moss (Belcher 1925, Benson and Benson 1947).  Clutch-size is 2-3 and egg-laying has been reported from October to December (Belcher 1925, Benson and Benson 1947).


The rapidly increasing human population in south-eastern Malawi, swelled by huge numbers of refugees during the last 20 years (Babu and Hassan 1995), is posing a serious threat to the survival of mid-altitude forest in the lowest parts of its range - the lower slopes of Mt Mulanje, in particular, are steadily being deforested for agriculture and timber (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 1997).  In 1995-1996, severe fires destroyed some indigenous forest on Mt Zomba (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 1997).  Fires cause a proliferation of invasive plants, in particular Rubus ellipticus, on Mt Mulanje, however presence of the species was found to be positively correlated with R. ellipticus by Mzumara et al. (2012) so this may not present a significant threat.  The Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika granted a Japanese minerals company a concession covering the whole of Mount Mulanje to mine rare earths in 2011 (J. Bayliss in litt. 2012), and it was reported that Tuchila plateau had been clear-felled and exploratory drilling had begun in late 2011.  It is uncertain whether the subsequent change in head of state following the death of the president in April 2012 will affect the mining concession.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
All remaining indigenous forest within the species's range is legally protected within Forest Reserves (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1988), but this no longer confers much protection (F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R. J. Dowsett in litt. 1999, 2000).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Examine its taxonomic status in more detail.  Initiate a campaign in Malawi to promote public awareness and support for forest conservation. Strengthen protection of remaining forest habitat (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1988).  Conduct surveys to assess its population size and distribution.  Establish a programme to monitor its population and habitat on a regular basis.


13 cm.  Small warbler of forest and forest edge.  Black head, grey ear-coverts, bright green back.  Bright yellow underparts, with olive-washed flanks and wide, black breast-band.  Pale eye.  Similar spp.  White-winged Apalis A. chariessa has longer tail, white throat and a white wing-patch. Voice  Loud twittering, not musical.


Text account compilers
Symes, A., Starkey, M., Westrip, J., Evans, M., Ekstrom, J., Taylor, J., Shutes, S.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Dowsett, R.J., Bayliss, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Apalis flavigularis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/02/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/02/2020.