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Uluguru Bush-shrike Malaconotus alius
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This species is only known from the newly formed Uluguru Forest Reserve. It has an extremely small range, within which its habitat is declining in area and quality. For these reasons it is listed as Critically Endangered.

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.

22-24 cm. Large, chunky shrike of forest canopy. Uniform olive upperparts. Canary-yellow underparts. Black cap. Bill black, robust and hooked. Female duller than male. Similar spp. All other large shrikes of forest lack black cap. Voice Haunting call of 3-5 whistles, with slight rise in scale on last notes.

Distribution and population
Malaconotus alius occurs only in the Uluguru Mountains, Tanzania. Its core habitat is within the newly formed Uluguru Nature Reserve (previously split into the Uluguru North, Uluguru South and Bunduki Forest Reserves) and an adjacent unprotected forest area, however this may now have lost most of its habitat. In 1999-2000, a census estimated a population of 1,200 pairs (Burgess et al. 2001); repeat surveys in 2006 and 2007 found that the population had not changed in numbers significantly (J. John in litt. 2007), but located the species in the southern end of the Ulugurus, extending the known range (J. John unpubl. data).

Population justification
A survey in 1999-2000 estimated the population at 1,200 pairs or 2,400 mature individuals, and repeat surveys in 2006 and 2007 found that it had not changed significantly (J. John in litt. 2007). This total roughly equates to 3,600 individuals in total.

Trend justification
Although available habitat is probably declining in extent and quality, repeat surveys have not revealed population declines (J. John in litt. 2007). Habitat has been lost from outside the northern end of the Uluguru Nature Reserve, but restoration in the 100 ha Bunduki gap is being conducted, hence the population may remain stable into the future. 

It inhabits the canopy of moist submontane and montane forest, seeming to prefer areas where precipitation is highest and the forest least disturbed, but has also been found in degraded forest at the edge of forest reserves or where mature and tall trees still remain. Its core habitat is probably the submontane and lowest montane zone (1,200-1,800 m) (Svendsen and Hansen 1995, Burgess et al. 2001, J. John in litt. 2011). It probably forages alone and in pairs, possibly joining mixed-species flocks (J. John in litt. 2007), feeding on large arthropods (Svendsen and Hansen 1995). Nothing is known of its breeding ecology (Baker and Baker 2001).

In the Ulugurus, much of the terrain on the main mountain is on steep slopes (Baker and Baker 2001), which was believed to be slowing deforestation. However, forest area declined from 300 km2 in 1955 to 230 km2 in 2001 (Burgess et al. 2002), caused by clearance of forest outside the Uluguru Nature Reserve for farms by an expanding human population on the lower slopes, . Most of this clearance occurred between 600 and 1,600 m, largely in submontane forest (Burgess et al. 2002), the preferred habitat of M. alius. The remaining forest is mainly within the Uluguru Nature Reserve, which is managed for the catchment of rivers that provide water for the 3.5 million people of Dar-es-Salaam. Despite the importance of the reserve, slow but continuous loss and degradation of habitat remains a threat (N. Burgess in litt. 2012). This consists mainly of cutting for firewood and some timber, leading to loss of tree cover and consequent increases of thicket tangles and invasive brambles (N. Burgess in litt. 2012). Threats identified by local forest patrols include fires that spread from nearby farmland, tree-cutting for poles and construction material, but also timber extraction by local people reportedly employed covertly by larger operations, firewood collection and collection of medicinal plants (J. John in litt. 2010, 2011).

Conservation Actions Underway
The population stronghold of this species is in the Uluguru Nature Reserve. Boundaries have been marked and planted around most of this reserve (N. Burgess in litt. 2012). Conservation action in the Ulugurus focuses on assisting local initiatives and increasing the involvement of local communities in forest management (Buckley and Matilya 1998). The Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania, using funding provided by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, confirmed the species's presence in a section of the reserve previously known as Uluguru South and is involved in follow-up work (J. John in litt. 2007). As part of BirdLife's Preventing Extinctions programme, the Species Guardian Jasson John is leading the implementation of the following actions (BirdLife International 2008): surveys in the area previously known as the Uluguru South Forest Reserve have been carried out and will provide a more precise understanding of the species's total population size; monitoring of preferred habitat continues in the area formerly designated as Uluguru North Forest Reserve; community sensitisation seminars and workshops have been conducted in order to raise awareness and address illegal activities taking place in the region. Habitat restoration, involving the development of a nursery and planting of indigenous trees, has been carried out in collaboration with the Forest and Bee-keeping Division (FBD), Tanzania's forest protection authority, and its coverage of local communities was due to be expanded (J. John in litt. 2010). Forest patrols are carried out by village environmental committees to assess, monitor and control the illegal harvesting of forest products and other potential threats (J. John in litt. 2010) These patrols are due to be intensified with the aid of additional equipment, whilst the apparent involvement of some community members with criminals has necessitated surprise patrols, the results of which will be assessed (J. John in litt. 2010). Conservation Actions Proposed
Publish existing population estimates from 2000 and 2006 and thereafter monitor population status. Increase efforts to reduce firewood collection and timber harvesting within the reserve (N. Burgess in litt. 2006). Plant new forest below 1,500 m (this would also be beneficial for watershed management). Estimate the number of individuals within the area previously known as Uluguru South.

Baker, N. E.; Baker, L. M. 2001. Tanzania. In: Fishpool, L.D.C.; Evans, M.I. (ed.), Important Bird Areas in Africa and associated islands: Priority sites for conservation, pp. 897-945. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11), Newbury and Cambridge, UK.

BirdLife International. 2008. Species Guardian Action Update: November 2008: Uluguru Bush-shrike Malaconotus alius. Available at: #

Buckley, P.; Matilya, J. G. 1998. Saving Tanzania's mountain forests. World Birdwatch 20: 16-19.

Burgess, N. D.; Romdal, T. S.; Rahner, M. 2001. Forest loss on the Ulugurus, Tanzania and the status of the Uluguru Bush Shrike Malaconotus alius. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 8(2): 89-90.

Burgess, N.; Doggart, N.; Lovett, J. C. 2002. The Uluguru Mountains of eastern Tanzania: the effect of forest loss on biodiversity. Oryx 36: 140-152.

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.

Stuart, S. N.; Jensen, F. P. 1981. Further range extensions and other notable records of forest birds from Tanzania. Scopus: 106-115.

Svendsen, J. O.; Hansen, L. A. 1995. Report on the Uluguru Biodiversity Survey 1993. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds/Tanzania Forestry Research Institute/Centre for Tropical Biodiversity, Sandy, U.K.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

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

Species Guardian Action Update

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Symes, A.

Burgess, N., Cordeiro, N., John, J., Romdal, T., Wolstencroft, J.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Malaconotus alius. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

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 - Uluguru bush-shrike (Malaconotus alius) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Malaconotidae (Helmetshrikes, bushshrikes and puffbacks)
Species name author Friedmann, 1927
Population size 2400 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 84 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species