email a friend
printable version
Gabela Bush-shrike Laniarius amboimensis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information
BirdLife Species Champion Become a BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme Supporter
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

This poorly known species is listed as Endangered because it is thought to have a very small population, which is suspected to be in decline owing to continued habitat loss and degradation.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Taxonomic note
Laniarius luehderi, L. brauni and L. amboimensis (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) are retained as separate species contra Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993) who include brauni and amboimensis as subspecies of L. luehderi.

20 cm. Black-and-white forest shrike. Predominantly black-and-white with rusty cap. Similar spp. Differs from very similar Luehder's Bush-shrike L. luehderi and Orange-breasted Bush-shrike L. brauni by having clear white underparts. Voice Throaty calls of waaark and whook, very similar to that of L. luehderi.

Distribution and population
Laniarius amboimensis was formerly known only from a restricted area around Gabela on the escarpment zone of Angola (Dean 2000); however, surveys conducted in 2005 have extended its known range (Mills 2010). After 1960 there were no records until single pairs were found twice in three days in September 1992, in mixed-species flocks. In 2003, it was found to be common in thickets in secondary forest and primary forest at Kumbira, and heard in forest near the Sumbe-Gabela road (Ryan et al. 2004). In January 2004, the species was recorded in Kumbira Forest and by a nearby road (Sekercioðlu and Riley 2005). During surveys conducted in 2005, it was recorded c.30 km north of Gabela and as far south Gungo (Mills 2010). There is also a specimen at Lubango Museum from Egito, Benguella (Mills 2010). The species is judged to be uncommon, and its population is estimated to include fewer than 1,000 mature individuals; however, this may be overly conservative and further surveys are required.

Population justification
The population is estimated at 350-980 individuals (2.5-7 individuals/km2 x 140 km2 [45% EOO]), i.e. within the band 250-999 mature individuals. This equates to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals. Density range is up to the lower quartile of nine estimates for seven congeners in the BirdLife Population Density Spreadsheet.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to the loss and degradation of the species's forest habitat through clearance and modification for cultivation. The likely rate of decline, however, has not been estimated.

It is found in the undergrowth of drier evergreen forest above 730 m, and shows some tolerance of habitat modification, having been recorded in overgrown coffee plantations (Mills 2010) and secondary thicket with dense understorey and lower canopy vegetation (Sekercioðlu and Riley 2005, Mills 2010).

It is threatened by habitat loss through the encroachment of subsistence and slash-and-burn agriculture (Sekercioðlu and Riley 2005, Mills 2010), which has been estimated to possibly affect 30% of forest in the Kumbira area (Sekercioðlu and Riley 2005). In some areas, 20-70% of canopy trees and all the undergrowth in valley bottoms is being cleared to plant bananas and sweet potatoes (Dean 2001). The removal of the all understorey vegetation renders habitat completely unsuitable for the species (Mills 2010). In other areas, up to 95% of the forest canopy has been removed to plant cassava and maize (Dean 2001). The cultivation of manioc and maize is now very prevalent within the species's range (F. Olmos in litt. 2011). Since the 1930s, shaded coffee plantations have been developed in the forests of the escarpment (Sekercioðlu and Riley 2005). With the return of peace, commercial activities on the Angolan escarpment (such as coffee growing) (Sinclair et al. 2004) are expected to resume (Mills et al. 2004). The marketing of local produce is currently limited by the poor state of the Sumbe-Gabela road (Ryan et al. 2004). However, this is a priority for reconstruction, which would contribute to increased development and agriculture in the area (Ryan et al. 2004). Most of Kumbira Forest was selectively logged before the civil war (Sinclair et al. 2004) and, although there is no evidence of on-going logging, the forest continues to be a source of firewood (Sekercioðlu and Riley 2005). Current activities such as selective logging and shaded coffee-gowing may not seriously threaten the species, as it is tolerant of fairly degraded habitats (Ryan et al. 2004, Mills 2010).

Conservation Actions Underway
A protected area of 50 km2 was recommended for the area in the early 1970s (Dean 2001), but this has not been established, and the possibility of protecting any habitat for the species by c.2017 is judged to be very uncertain (M. Mills in litt. 2012). Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys to determine its distribution and population size. Study the species's habitat requirements. Designate protected areas to safeguard suitable habitat. Implement a conservation strategy for the Angolan escarpment in reaction to the resumption of commercial activities (Mills et al. 2004). Promote ecotourism as a viable supplement to agriculture (Sinclair et al. 2004). Preserve Kumbira Forest through official protection and community-based conservation (Sekercioðlu and Riley 2005).

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.

Dean, W. R. J. 2000. The birds of Angola. British Ornithologists' Union, Tring, UK.

Dean, W. R. J. 2001. Angola. In: Fishpool, L.D.C.; Evans, M.I. (ed.), Important Bird Areas in Africa and associated islands: Priority sites for conservation, pp. 71-91. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife International Conservation Series No.11), Newbury and Cambridge, UK.

Mills, M. S. L. 2010. Angola's central scarp forests: patterns of bird diversity and conservation threats. Biodiversity and Conservation 19(7): 1883-1903.

Mills, M.; Cohen, C.; Spottiswoode, C. 2004. Little-known African bird: Gabela Akalat, Angola's long-neglected Gabelatrix. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 11: 149-151.

Mills, M.S.L.; Dean W. R.J. in prep.. A revision of the avifauna of Angola..

Ryan, P. G.; Sinclair, I.; Cohen, C.; Mills, M.S. L.; Spottiswoode, C.N.; Cassidy, R. 2004. The conservation status and vocalizations of threatened birds from the scarp forests of the Western Angola Endemic Bird Area. Bird Conservation International 14: 247-260.

Sekercioglu, C.H.; Riley, A. 2005. A brief survey of the birds in Kumbira Forest, Gabela, Angola. Ostrich 76(3&4): 111-117.

Sinclair, I.; Spottiswoode, C.; Cohen, C.; Mills, M.; Cassidy, R.; vaz Pinto, P.; Ryan, P. 2004. Birding western Angola. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 11(2): 152-160.

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., Taylor, J.

Dean, R., Mills, M., Olmos, F., Vaz Pinto, P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Laniarius amboimensis. 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

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 - Gabela bush shrike (Laniarius amboimensis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Malaconotidae (Helmetshrikes, bushshrikes and puffbacks)
Species name author Moltoni, 1932
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 2,900 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species