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Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Trend justification
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes.

Behaviour This species is an intra-African migrant with movements related to seasonal rainfall, although some populations may be resident all year round in permanent habitats (del Hoyo et al 1996). The timing of the breeding season varies geographically (del Hoyo et al 1996), with the species breeding in solitary well-separated territorial pairs (Urban et al. 1986). Habitat The species inhabits permanent and temporary freshwater wetlands such as papyrus swamps, reedbeds, marshes with rushes and open water, ponds with floating vegetation (e.g. water-lilies), flood-plains and pans with emergent grass, sedges and floating plants, rank vegetation on the edges of ponds, dams, rivers and forest streams, rice-fields, flooded farmland, sewage ponds, seasonally inundated grassland (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998), gravel pits (Zimbabwe) and coastal lagoons (Ghana) (Taylor and van Perlo 1998); although it shows a preference for temporary waters with abundant emergent vegetation (del Hoyo et al 1996). Diet The species is omnivorous, its diet consisting of molluscs, insects (especially beetles) and vegetable matter such as the seeds and flowers of reeds (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Breeding site The nest is a pad of grass or sedge with a shallow cup that is usually placed on the surface of water or up to 5 cm above it (water typically 20-100 cm deep), alternatively in emergent grass or sedges up to 1.5 m tall (del Hoyo et al 1996, Taylor and van Perlo 1998).

The species is threatened by wetland habitat loss through draining, damming and grazing (Taylor and van Perlo 1998). Utilisation The species was hunted in the past for subsistence in northern Namibia (Urban et al. 1986). Currently the species is hunted for trade (at traditional medicine markets) in Nigeria (Nikolaus 2001), and for local consumption and trade at Lake Chilwa, Malawi (Bhima 2006).

Bhima, R. 2006. Subsistence use of waterbirds at Lake Chilwa, Malawi. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 255-256. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Nikolaus, G. 2001. Bird exploitation for traditional medicine in Nigeria. Malimbus 23: 45-55.

Taylor, B. 1998. Rails: a guide to the rails, crakes, gallinules and coots of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Gallinula angulata. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, Coots)
Species name author Sundevall, 1851
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 11,700,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change