email a friend
printable version
White-throated Mountain-babbler Kupeornis gilberti
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 species's overall range is very small and its montane forest habitat is threatened and continues to decline in extent and quality at some locations. For these reasons it qualifies 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.

Lioptilus gilberti Collar and Andrew (1988)

23 cm. Large, brown-and-white forest babbler. Combination of all chestnut-brown body and white face and breast are diagnostic. Greyish-olive wings and tail. Immature has mottled white and brown face and breast. Similar spp. No other bird in its range has white face. Voice Noisy chattering in groups and harsh chrook chrook call. Hints Travels through the forest in flocks of 10-12, often in mixed-species flocks, especially with Grey-headed Greenbul Phyllastrephus poliocephalus. Generally in the canopy, occasionally in the mid- or ground-stratum.

Distribution and population
Kupeornis gilberti is restricted to a few localities in western Cameroon (Rumpi Hills, Bakossi Mountains, Banyang Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary [R. Fotso in litt. 1999], Mt Kupe, Mt Manenguba (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1999c), Mt Nlonako, Foto near Dschang), and eastern Nigeria (Obudu Plateau). It is common on the Obudu Plateau (Elgood et al. 1994, P. Hall in litt. 1999) and, in 1999, was found to be very common on Mt Manenguba (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1999c). However, the two most important sites for the species are the Bakossi Mountains and Rumpi Hills, because of the area of suitable forest remaining (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998d). In 1998, the estimated population in Bakossi was several thousand individuals (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998d).

Population justification
In 1998, the population in Bakossi, Cameroon, one of the most important sites for the species, was estimated at several thousand individuals, thus as a preliminary population estimate the species is placed in the range bracket for 10,000-19,999 individuals. This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals. Further documentation is required.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline owing to the effects of forest clearance for cultivation, logging for timber and firewood, fires and intensive grazing by livestock. The likely rate of decline, however, has not been estimated.

It appears to be dependent on primary montane forest with high rainfall, but has also been seen in mature secondary growth, including 10 m tall, scrubby but mossy Maesa forest on the southern slopes of Mt Manenguba (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1999c), and conifer trees around cattle-ranch buildings on the Obudu Plateau (P. Hall in litt. 1999). It occurs between 950-2,130 m, but its distribution (particularly the altitude) seems well correlated with that of thick epiphytic moss (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 1999). It is mainly insectivorous, searching for food in moss, epiphytes and crevices in bark. It has been recorded breeding in west Cameroon from June to November, and on the Obudu Plateau in April.

Undisturbed forest throughout its range is under pressure from exploitation for timber and firewood, intensive grazing, fire and clearance for agriculture. Plans for a 70,000 hectare palm-oil plantation threaten to significantly fragment large areas of suitable habitat in southwestern Cameroon if approved (Linder et al. 2011).

Conservation Actions Underway
There is an ongoing conservation and development project at Mt Kupe. However, the forest still has no legal protection and there has been a slow extension of farmland on the northern slopes (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 1998d). The forests of the Bakossi Mountains are still waiting to be classified as part of a national park (R. Fotso in litt. 2007). The Banyang Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary is the focus of a major conservation programme (R. Fotso in litt. 1999). A small area of montane forest is protected on the Obudu Plateau (P. Hall in litt. 1999). Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct research into the species's ecology and life history. Verify if the Foto forest near Dschang still exists and, if so, recheck the status of the population there (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 1999). Assess the size of the total population. Once a baseline estimate has been obtained, monitor trends in the total population. Monitor habitat trends in the species's range. Designate more protected areas in its range (P. Hall in litt. 1999), including a national park for the Bakossi Mountains.

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.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F.; Dowsett, R. J. 1998. Zoological survey of small mammals, birds and frogs in the Bakossi and Kupe Mountains, Cameroon.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F.; Dowsett, R. J. 1999. Survey of birds and amphibians on Mt Manenguba, Mt Nlonako, north Bakossi and around Kupe in 1988-99.

Elgood, J. H.; Heigham, J. B.; Moore, A. M.; Nason, A. M.; Sharland, R. E.; Skinner, N. J. 1994. The birds of Nigeria. British Ornithologists' Union, Tring, U.K.

Linder, J.M.; Laurence, W.F.; Struhsaker, T.T.; Ehrlich, P.R.; Raven, P.H.; Fredriksson, G.; Bradshaw, C.J.A.; Brook, B.W.; Koh, L.P; Waltert, M. 2012. An Open Letter about the Environmental and Social Impacts of a Massive Oil Palm Development in Cameroon.

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., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Fotso, R., Hall, P., Whytock, R.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Kupeornis gilberti. 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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Timaliidae (Babblers and parrotbills)
Species name author Serle, 1949
Population size 6000-15000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,700 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species