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Usambara Akalat Sheppardia montana
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There is no recent information on the size and trend of this species's population, but it is probably declining. The species has a very small range in which it is known from few locations. Clearance and degradation of its forest habitat apparently continues. It is therefore classified as 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.

Dryocichloides montanus Collar and Andrew (1988)

13 cm. Small, drab robin of forest. Dull with hardly any contrasting features. Tail slightly redder than brown upperparts. Off-white underparts washed brown across breast and flanks. Loral area slightly paler (hardly noticeable). Voice Soft tssh contact note. Thin, weak, high-pitched song. Hints Most easily located in Shume and Shagayu forest patches on the West Usambara Mountains (Tanzania).

Distribution and population
Sheppardia montana has a very small range of c. 930 km2 in the West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, of which it is thought to occupy just c. 140 km2 of suitable habitat. The total population was conservatively estimated to be 28,000 birds at the beginning of the 1980s (van der Willigen and Lovett 1981).

Population justification
The total population has been conservatively estimated at 28,000 birds.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to the clearance and degradation of the species's forest habitat through the encroachment of agriculture and wood extraction. The likely rate of decline, however, has not been estimated.

This is a largely ground-dwelling bird of montane forest undergrowth, thickets and degraded forest with some remaining canopy, replacing Sharpe's Akalat S. sharpei at higher altitudes and in drier forests (Keith et al. 1992). It forages on the forest floor (often following driver-ant swarms), as well as on trunks and lianas, and by sallying in mid-air (Keith et al. 1992). Its breeding ecology is unknown, but there are indications that the breeding season is from October to March, with a peak in November-December (Keith et al. 1992, N. Baker in litt. 1999).

Formerly its habitat was being converted to softwood plantations, although probably no longer (N. Baker in litt. 1999). Encroachment for subsistence agriculture is still ongoing. Although this has been regarded as a minor threat (N. Baker in litt. 1999), in some forests wood extraction is still a very serious issue (Goodman et al. 1995). The species's population is therefore assumed to be declining and becoming fragmented.

Conservation Actions Underway
Most of its range lies within Forest Reserves. Some forest areas in the west Usambaras have developed community management plans (Goodman et al. 1995) but the outcomes and effectiveness of these is not known. In February 2000 a three-year evaluation of forest health, land-use change and information sharing in the Eastern Arc forests was established (Madoffe et al. undated, see Satellite imagery, permanent sample plots and stakeholder interviews are being used to evaluate forest health (Madoffe et al. undated, see Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct fieldwork to establish its population size. Commence population monitoring. Assess and monitor potential threats, especially the extent and rate of loss or degradation of its habitat. Work with organisations such as Tea Estates to conserve forests in the West Usambaras, such as at Ambangulu (Goodman et al. 1995).

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.

Goodman, S. M.; Stanley, W. T.; Newmark, W. D.; Howell, K. M. 1995. The Ambangulu Forest, West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania: a threatened Eastern Arc forest. Oryx 29: 212-214.

Keith, S.; Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H. 1992. The birds of Africa vol. IV. Academic Press, London.

Madoffe, S.S., Munishi, P.T.K. and Burgess, N. 2005. How well managed are the Eastern Arc Mountain Forests? The Arc Journal 19: 22-23.

van der Willigen, T. A.; Lovett, J. 1981. Report of the Oxford expedition to Tanzania 1979.

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

Baker, N.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Sheppardia montana. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

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 - Usambara akalat (Sheppardia montana) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Muscicapidae (Chats and Old World flycatchers)
Species name author (Reichenow, 1907)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 930 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species