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Madagascar Jacana Actophilornis albinucha
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species has been uplisted to Near Threatened because it is suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline owing to the loss and degradation of its wetland habitats and continued hunting pressure and almost qualifies for a threatened listing under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd.

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
Actophilornis albinucha is endemic to Madagascar. It has been described as common or abundant in western and northern Madagascar, but is rare in the east of the island (Langrand 1990, Morris and Hawkins 1998). It has been noted that the species is becoming less frequently observed in suitable habitat (P. Morris in litt. 2010, L.-A. Réné de Roland in litt. 2012), probably indicating that a decline has occurred. This apparent decline is suspected to be on-going, on the basis of continued habitat loss and modification, as well as hunting pressure (del Hoyo et al. 1996, P. Morris in litt. 2010, L.-A. Réné de Roland in litt. 2012, G. Young in litt. 2012).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 1,000-10,000 individuals, roughly equating to 670-6,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population appears to have become increasing rare in suitable habitat (P. Morris in litt. 2010, L.-A. Réné de Roland in litt. 2012), and is suspected to be in moderately rapid decline owing to on-going habitat destruction and degradation, as well as hunting pressure (del Hoyo et al. 1996, P. Morris in litt. 2010, L.-A. Réné de Roland in litt. 2012, G. Young in litt. 2012).

Behaviour The migratory movements and breeding habits of this species are little known, although it appears to make minor local movements in response to water conditions and may breed throughout the year (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species is usually found alone or in pairs, more rarely in groups (one group recorded contained 75 individuals) (Langrand 1990). Habitat The species shows a preference for floating vegetation on shallow lake margins, in freshwater marshes, on ponds and on slow-flowing rivers, from sea-level to c.750 m (Langrand 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet Its diet consists of adult and larval insects and other invertebrates, as well as the seeds of aquatic plants (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a floating heap of aquatic vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

The species is threatened by habitat loss and degradation, e.g. a decline in the population on Lake Aloatra has been attributed to siltation, agricultural development, drainage, over-fishing and illegal hunting (del Hoyo et al. 1996). In general, aquatic habitats in Madagascar are threatened by conversion to rice cultivation, which also results in a reduction in the extent of habitat fringed by water-lilies (Rabenandrasana and Sama 2006). However, the species can survive in some modified and disturbed habitats, such as flooded rice fields (G. Young in litt. 2012). This species, like all waterbirds in Madagascar, is hunted wherever possible (L.-A. Réné de Roland in litt. 2012, G. Young in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known for this species, although it occurs in a number of protected areas, and will benefit from actions carried out for other aquatic bird species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to acquire a total population estimate and baseline estimates for certain sites. Conduct regular population monitoring at selected sites. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation across its range. Increase the area of suitable wetland habitat that receives effective protection. Conduct awareness-raising activities to help reduce habitat degradation.

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., and 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.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

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.

Rabenandrasana, M.; Sama, Z. 2006. The population size, distribution and habitat of the Sakalava Rail in the western Malagasy wetlands. Journal of Ornithology 147(5): 234.

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., Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L., Taylor, J. & Symes, A.

Morris, P., Réné De Roland, L. & Young, G.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Actophilornis albinucha. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

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 Near Threatened
Family Jacanidae (Jacanas)
Species name author (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1832)
Population size 670-6700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 113,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species