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Madagascar Snipe Gallinago macrodactyla
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is classified as Vulnerable as it is estimated to have a small population which is undergoing a continuing decline owing to wetland modification and hunting. Up-to-date data is urgently needed for this species, as the population estimate is now nearly a decade out of date. Should the population prove to be lower than currently thought, the species may warrant uplisting in the future.

Taxonomic source(s)
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.

Distribution and population
Gallinago macrodactyla is found in the humid eastern half of Madagascar, from sea-level up to 2,700 m, being more common above 700 m (Langrand 1990; Morris and Hawkins 1998). It has been recorded from Tsaratanana in the north to Madena in the south-east, and from the eastern coast to the Sakay river on the western side of the central plateau (R. Safford in litt. 2009). It has also been recorded on Ile Sante Marie (R. Safford in litt. 2009). It is uncommon (Langrand 1990), but may be locally common at some sites (R. Safford in litt. 2009), and although the total population has been estimated at 1,800-7,500 individuals (F. Hawkins in litt. to Wetlands International 2002, the true population size is likely to be at the higher end of this estimate (R. Safford pers. comm. 2010).

Population justification
The total population was previously estimated at 1,800-7,500 individuals (F. Hawkins in litt. 2002). However, the population size is likely to lie in the upper end of this estimate (R. Safford pers. comm. 2010), hence the population is best placed in the band 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to wetland modification and hunting pressures, though the rate of decline is unknown.

Behaviour This species is presumed to be sedentary, and breeding has been observed during the months of July-January (del Hoyo et al. 1996). During the non-breeding season it is fairly gregarious and often observed foraging in small groups of 4-8 individuals (Langrand 1990). Habitat It inhabits dense vegetation and muddy areas, including grassy and sedge-covered marshes and swamps muddy shores of lakes and watercourses, flooded fields and sometimes rice-paddies (Langrand 1990; del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding Breeding has been recorded in a grassy swamp with dry hummocks (Johnsgard 1981). Diet It feeds on invertebrates, seeds and plants (Langrand 1990). Breeding site The nest is placed in a dense tuft of grass in or adjacent to marshland (Langrand 1990). One nest has been described, and it consisted of a depression in a dry hummock, scantily lined with grass (Johnsgard 1981).

The species is threatened by the increasing conversion of wetland-edge habitat to rice cultivation (Langrand 1990). For example, at the largest block of suitable wetland habitat in Madagascar, Lake Alaotra, 250 km2 of the 350 km2 surrounding the lake are now under rice production (Edhem 1993; Pidgeon 1996). The species is also threatened by hunting (Langrand 1990).

Conservation Actions Underway
The Malagasy government has ratified the Ramsar Convention, which came into force for the country in 1999, and this may herald improved conservation measures for wetlands. Conservation Actions Proposed
Obtain an up-to-date population estimate, and develop monitoring to establish population trends. Monitor rates of habitat loss. Study the impact of hunting on the species. Discourage and control hunting as appropriate. Protect important wetland sites.

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

Edhem, M. 1993. Lake Alaotra - in search of the Madagascar Pochard. Wildfowl and Wetlands 109: 18-21.

Johnsgard, P. A. 1981. The plovers, sandpipers and snipes of the world. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, U.S.A. and London.

Langrand, O. 1990. Guide to the birds of Madagascar. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Morris, P.; Hawkins, F. 1998. Birds of Madagascar: a photographic guide. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, UK.

Pidgeon, M. 1996. Summary: an ecological survey of Lake Alaotra and selected wetlands of central and eastern Madagascar in analysing the demise of Madagascar Pochard Aythya innotata. Working Group on Birds in the Madagascar Region Newsletter 6(2): 17-19.

Wetlands International. 2002. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.

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
Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., O'Brien, A., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Hawkins, F., Rabenandrasana, M., Safford, R.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Gallinago macrodactyla. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Madagascar snipe (Gallinago macrodactyla) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Scolopacidae (Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes)
Species name author Bonaparte, 1839
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 220,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species