email a friend
printable version
Green-breasted Bush-shrike Malaconotus gladiator
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

Despite being found at three new locations since 1997, this species still has a small range, which is fragmented, and suspected to be declining owing to habitat loss. It would seem to occur in low numbers and its population is likely to be small and declining. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

25 cm. Large, big headed, grey-and-green forest shrike. Combination of grey cap and nape and green body are diagnostic. Voice Series of monotonous whistles or grating notes, identical to those of Grey-headed Bush Shrike M. blanchoti. Hints Easily detected by distinctive, far-carrying call. Does not associate with other species.

Distribution and population
Malaconotus gladiator occurs at low densities in western Cameroon (Mt Cameroon, Rumpi Hills, Bakossi Mountains, southern slopes of Mt Manenguba [Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1999c], Mt Kupe, Mt Nlonako, Mt Oku, and at four further localities in the Bamenda-Banso Highlands [Njabo and Languy 2000]) and eastern Nigeria (Obudu Plateau). The species must be on the verge of extinction on Mt Oku, as there is almost no forest remaining within its altitudinal range (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998c). It is uncommon on Mt Nlonako and has not been found in the north Bakossi Mountains or the highlands of Banyang Mbo, despite searches (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1999c, R. Fotso in litt. 1999). However, in 1998, it was found to be locally common in central Bakossi Mountains, with six territories located in <1 km2 and this is undoubtedly the most important site for the species (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998d). In 1999 and 2000, it was found on the southern slopes of Mt Manenguba, where it was also fairly common (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1999c, Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2000b).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be declining in line with the clearance and degradation of forest within the species's range. The likely rate of decline, however, has not been estimated.

This insectivorous species is found in montane forest, both primary and old secondary forest, favouring the edge of natural clearings or gaps (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998c), and forest/grassland mosaic from 950 to 2,300 m. Altitudes vary with locality, for example, in the Bakossi Mountains it is found down to at least 1,100 m, whilst on Mt Manenguba it is mainly found between 1,500 and 2,200 m (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1999c, Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2000b).

There is already considerable loss of habitat in the Bamenda Highlands, where remaining forest is severely threatened by clearance for agriculture, grazing, firewood collection and extraction of timber, whilst forest loss on the Obudu Plateau continues at an alarming rate (P. Hall in litt. 1999). Plans for a 70,000 ha palm oil plantation threaten to significantly fragment large areas of suitable habitat in the southwestern Cameroon if approved (Linder et al. 2011).

Conservation Actions Underway
The Mount Cameroon National Park was created in December 2009, covering c.58,000 ha (WWF 2010). In the Bakossi Mountains, forests are still waiting to be classified, probably partly as forest reserves (open to timber concessions) and partly as protected areas (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998d). On the Obudu Plateau, a small patch of forest has been established as a reserve and it is hoped to extend protection to other forest areas on the plateau (P. Hall in litt. 1999).Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to assess the population size. Carry out regular surveys to monitor population trends. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation within the species's range. In Cameroon, conserve montane forest sites through legal protection or community forestry (F. Maisels in litt. 1998). In Nigeria, protect additional areas of forest on the Obudu Plateau (P. Hall in litt. 1999).

Collar, N. J.; Stuart, S. N. 1985. Threatened birds of Africa and related islands: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, U.K.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F.; Dowsett, R. J. 1998. Surveys of Oku Mt and other IBAs in NW Province (Cameroon), February-March 1998.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F.; Dowsett, R. J. 1998. Zoological survey of small mammals, birds and frogs in the Bakossi and Kupe Mountains, Cameroon.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F.; Dowsett, R. J. 1999. Survey of birds and amphibians on Mt Manenguba, Mt Nlonako, north Bakossi and around Kupe in 1988-99.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F.; Dowsett, R. J. 2000. Further biological surveys of Manenguba and Central Bakossi in March 2000, and an evaluation of the conservation importance of Manenguba, Bakossi, Kupe and Nlonako Mts, with special reference to birds.

Linder, J.M.; Laurence, W.F.; Struhsaker, T.T.; Ehrlich, P.R.; Raven, P.H.; Fredriksson, G.; Bradshaw, C.J.A.; Brook, B.W.; Koh, L.P; Waltert, M. 2012. An Open Letter about the Environmental and Social Impacts of a Massive Oil Palm Development in Cameroon.

Njabo, Y. K.; Languy, M. 2000. Surveys of selected montane and submontane forests in the Bamenda Highlands in March 2000.

Williams, E. 1998. Green-breasted Bush-shrike Malaconotus gladiator and its relationship with Monteiro's Bush-shrike M. monteiri. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 5(2): 101-104.

WWF. 2010. Unique Cameroon mountain area gets crucial protection. Available at: (Accessed: 15/05/2012).

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

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Fotso, R., Hall, P., Maisels, F., Whytock, R.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Malaconotus gladiator. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

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 - Green-breasted bush-shrike (Malaconotus gladiator) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Malaconotidae (Helmetshrikes, bushshrikes and puffbacks)
Species name author (Reichenow, 1892)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,200 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change