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Liberian Greenbul Phyllastrephus leucolepis
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This species is very poorly known, but it appears to have an extremely small range which is severely fragmented and likely to be declining owing to habitat destruction. It is therefore classified as Critically Endangered. However, it probably remains extant because some suitable habitat remains and searches have not been adequately extensive.

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.

15 cm. Small, olive-and-yellow forest greenbul. Drab olive above, dull yellow below with olive wash across breast. Yellow spots on tips of secondaries and secondary coverts diagnostic. Similar spp. Very similar to Icterine Greenbul (P. icterinus), but has yellow spots on wings. Much smaller than Yellow-spotted Nicator (Nicator chloris) and has yellow, not greyish, underparts. Voice Unknown. Hints Reported to move through the lower storey whilst flicking, partly opened wings.

Distribution and population
Phyllastrephus leucolepis is a relatively recently described (1985) and obviously very rare species. It is known only from two forest patches 20 km north-west of Zwedru, near Cavalla river, Grand Gedeh County, south-east Liberia (Gatter 1985), in the Upper Guinea rainforest. Despite much fieldwork in Liberia before the civil war, and some since, as well as in adjacent countries, there have been no further records. Targeted searches of the two known sites in July 2010 were unsuccessful (Molubah and Garbo 2010) and an expedition in February-March 2013 also failed to locate the species (Phalan et al. 2013).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 250-999 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 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
Rapid forest clearance owing to the expansion of small-holder agriculture and commercial logging is suspected to be driving a very rapid decline in this species's population size.

This is a rainforest species found in the transition zone between evergreen and semi-deciduous forest, where it joins mixed-species flocks and forages on branches near trunks 4-8 m above ground.

Forest in the region of the type-locality is being logged and cleared for smallholder agriculture and is already highly fragmented (Gatter and Gardener 1993). Less severe, is the impact of charcoal burning and agriculture which currently seem to be relatively restricted in their extent but may be future threat. In addition the local population is expanding rapidly and may also pose a threat in the future (Phalan et al. 2013). The civil unrest undoubtedly contributed to the short-term exploitation of these resources.

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
The civil war prevented research or conservation efforts for a number of years; with the return of stability, further efforts to re-locate the bird and to re-assess the quality and extent of remaining habitat are priorities. Work is underway to clarify its taxonomic status, and funding is currently being sought to search for the species in the near future. In 2008 a two year project began, funded by IUCN and lead by the Society for Environmental Conservation, which aimed to raise awareness and assess ways of reducing threats to this species, however this appears to have little lasting impact (Phalan et al. 2013).

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Establish the extent of remaining habitat and estimate the population and distribution (P. Robertson in litt. 1998). Carry out more intensive surveys of known sites and adjacent sites in the dry season (e.g. Cavally and Goin-Debe Forest Reserves in Cote d'Ivoire) to assess habitat quality and species status (H. Rainey in litt. 2007, Molubah and Garbo 2010). Effectively manage protected areas in range or adjacent to range (e.g. Sapo NP in Liberia) (H. Rainey in litt. 2007). Review its taxonomic status to establish conclusively whether it is a good species or merely an aberrant form of Icterine Greenbul (Phyllastrephus icterinus). Work to ensure protection of the Cavalla Forest and establish a protected area within the area. Support local alternatives to logging, hunting, charcoal and agricultural expansion (Phalan et al. 2013).

Gatter, W. 1985. Ein neuer Bulbul aus Westafrika (Aves, Pycnonotidae). Journal of Ornithology 126: 155-161.

Gatter, W.; Gardner, R. 1993. The biology of the Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni Wolters 1974. Bird Conservation International 3: 87-103.

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

Molubah, F. P.; Garbo, M. 2010. Liberian Greenbul - Phyllastrephus leucolepis Survey Report, July 2010. Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL).

Phalan, B., Fishpool, L.D.C, Loqueh, E.M., Grimes, T., Molubah, F.P. and Garbo, M. 2013. Liberian Greenbul expedition 2013: Final report. Unpublished report to African Bird Club and RSPB. Cambridge, United Kingdom.

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

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Ekstrom, J., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A. & Wright, L

Fishpool, L., Rainey, H. & Robertson, P.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Phyllastrephus leucolepis. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

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

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Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)
Species name author Gatter, 1985
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 99 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species