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Yellow-throated Apalis Apalis flavigularis
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This species is considered Endangered as it has a very small and severely fragmented range, along the perimeter of which its forest habitat is being rapidly degraded and destroyed. Although the current population may prove to be significantly larger than previously realised, the granting of a mining concession covering the whole of Mt Mulanje in late 2011 could have disastrous implications for the future survival of the species.

Taxonomic note
Apalis thoracica (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into A. thoracica, A. fuscigularis, A. lynesi and A. flavigularis following Collar et al. (1994). A. t. flavigularis differs from neighbouring races in its: (1) blackish head and sides of face vs silvery-brown, and former extending onto upper mantle; (2) mantle greenish-olive yellow vs grey-tinged olive; (3) underparts consistently strong yellow vs white shading to yellowish; (4) broad vs narrow breast-band; (5) sexual dimorphism; (6) female vocally different.

13 cm. Small warbler of forest and forest edge. Black head, grey ear-coverts, bright green back. Bright yellow underparts, with olive-washed flanks and wide, black breast-band. Pale eye. Similar spp. White-winged Apalis A. chariessa has longer tail, white throat, white wing-patch. Voice Loud twittering, not musical.

Distribution and population
Apalis flavigularis is restricted to three massifs (Mt Mulanje, Mt Zomba, Mt Malosa) in south-east Malawi, east of the Nyasa-Shire Rift (Benson and Benson 1977). In 1983, it was considered common within its habitat (Dowsett-Lemaire 1989). It has been suggested that it may occur on Mt Chiperone in adjacent Mozambique (Urban et al. 1997), but there are no records from this vicinity (Benson 1950) and the species does not occur on similar, smaller mountains in Malawi that are nearer the known range, implying that it is unlikely to occur there (F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R. J. Dowsett in litt. 1999, 2000). In 2008 surveys estimated a minimum of 7,900 individuals in cedar forest on Mt Mulanje alone, suggesting that the total population on Mulanje is likely to exceed 10,000 individuals (Mzumara et al. 2011). The granting of a mining concession covering the whole of Mt Mulanje, with exploratory drilling already taking place in late 2011, could however have disastrous implications for the long-term survival of the species.

Population justification
The population is estimated at 2,320-4,408 individuals (10-19 individuals/km2 x 232 km2 [45% EOO]), i.e. best placed in band 2,500-9,999 individuals. This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals. Density range from lower quartile to mean of four estimates for ten congeners in BirdLife Population Density Spreadsheet.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline at a moderate rate, owing to continuing deforestation for agriculture and timber by an increasing human population, and the effects of severe fires (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 1997).

It is confined to the highest mountains in southern Malawi, spanning 1,000-2,400 m on Mt Mulanje (moving as low as 600-700 m during the non-breeding season, January-August) and 1,400-1,950 m on Mt Zomba and Mt Malosa (Dowsett-Lemaire 1989). It occurs predominantly in evergreen (but also riparian) forest, and in nearby secondary growth and thickets (F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R. J. Dowsett in litt. 1999, 2000), and was found to favour forest edge and occur in patches as small as 0.01 ha (Mzumara et al. 2011). It builds a domed nest of moss (Belcher 1925, Benson and Benson 1947). Clutch-size is 2-3 and egg-laying has been reported from October to December (Belcher 1925, Benson and Benson 1947).

The rapidly increasing human population in south-eastern Malawi, swelled by huge numbers of refugees during the last 20 years (Babu and Hassan 1995), is posing a serious threat to the survival of mid-altitude forest in the lowest parts of its range - the lower slopes of Mt Mulanje, in particular, are steadily being deforested for agriculture and timber (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 1997). In 1995-1996, severe fires destroyed some indigenous forest on Mt Zomba (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 1997). Fires cause a proliferation of invasive plants, in particular Rubus ellipticus, on Mt Mulanje, however presence of the species was found to be positively correlated with R. ellipticus by Mzumara et al. (2011) so this may not present a significant threat. The Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika granted a Japanese minerals company a concession covering the whole of Mount Mulanje to mine rare earths in 2011 (J. Bayliss in litt. 2012), and it was reported that Tuchila plateau had been clear-felled and exploratory drilling had begun in late 2011. It is uncertain whether the subsequent change in head of state following the death of the president in April 2012 will affect the mining concession.

Conservation Actions Underway
All remaining indigenous forest within the species's range is legally protected within Forest Reserves (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1988), but this no longer confers much protection (F. Dowsett-Lemaire and R. J. Dowsett in litt. 1999, 2000).Conservation Actions Proposed
Examine its taxonomic status in more detail. Initiate a campaign in Malawi to promote public awareness and support for forest conservation. Strengthen protection of remaining forest habitat (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1988). Conduct surveys to assess its population size and distribution. Establish a programme to monitor its population and habitat on a regular basis.

Babu, S. C.; Hassan, R. 1995. International migration and environmental degradation - the case of Mozambican refugees and forest resources in Malawi. Journal of Environmental Management 43: 233-247.

Belcher, C. F. 1925. Birds on the Luchenya Plateau, Mlanje, Nyasaland. Ibis 12: 797-814.

Benson, C. W. 1950. A collection from Chiperoni Mountain, Portuguese East Africa. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 70: 51.

Benson, C. W.; Benson, F. M. 1947. Some breeding and other records from Nyasaland. Ibis 89: 279-290.

Benson, C. W.; Benson, F. M. 1977. The birds of Malawi. Montfort Press, Limbe, Malawi.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F. 1989. Ecological and biogeographical aspects of forest bird communities in Malawi. Scopus 13: 1-80.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F.; Dowsett, R. J. 1988. Threats to the evergreen forests of southern Malawi. Oryx 22: 158-162.

Mzumara, T. I., Hockey, P. A. R. and Ridley, A. R. 2011. Re-assessment of the conservation status of Malawi’s ‘Endangered’ Yellow-throated Apalis Apalis flavigularis. Bird Conservation International doi:10.1017/S0959270911000335. Published online by Cambridge University Press 05 December 2011.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1997. The birds of Africa vol. V. Academic Press, London.

Vincent, J. 1935. The birds of northern Portuguese East Africa, comprising a list of and observations on the collections made during the British Musuem Expedition of 1931-32. Ibis 13th ser. Vol V: 485-529.

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
Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Dowsett, R., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Bayliss, J.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Apalis flavigularis. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

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 - Yellow-throated apalis (Apalis flavigularis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and allies)
Species name author Shelley, 1893
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 510 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species