This discussion was first published as part of the 2012 Red List update, but remains open for comment to enable reassessment in 2014.
Bugun Liocichla Liocichla bugunorum was described in 2006 (Athreya 2006) and recognised by BirdLife in the 2007 Red List update, in which it was, and remains, listed as Vulnerable under criterion D2, on the basis that it its known range is very small, having been previously known from only two locations, and there are plausible threats that could drive the species to qualify for Critically Endangered or even Extinct in a short time period. It was previously known only from Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh, India, and has been observed in heavily disturbed hillsides with dense shrubbery and small to medium-sized trees, but also on the edge of primary forest (Athreya 2006).
The likely range of this species has been recently remapped with reference to a recently reported sighting near Bomdila (C. Bonpo in litt. 2011), resulting in an estimated Extent of Occurrence (EOO) of c.140 km2. The species is now known from up to three locations.
Although it has been observed in logged forest, this may be a sub-optimal habitat, as it appears to be absent from other areas of logged forest near known localities (Anon. 2006). Thus the species is precautionarily suspected to be in slow decline owing to continued logging for fuel wood at one of the known localities. It appears, therefore, that there are on-going declines in the species’s Area of Occupancy (AOO) and area, extent and/or quality of habitat. Proposals for the construction of a road through its range seem to have stalled, although improvements to the existing track are still planned (R. Athreya in litt. 2007). Unregulated tourism could pose a longer-term threat.
With this information in mind, the species may qualify as Endangered under criterion B1a+b(ii,iii) on the basis that it has an EOO estimated at less than 5,000 km2, in which it is known from fewer than six locations, and there are continuing declines in its AOO and area, extent and/or quality of habitat.
The species’s population is currently suspected to number 50-249 mature individuals, based on a known population of c.14 individuals. If this figure were regarded as ‘estimated’, i.e. treated with greater certainty, the species would automatically qualify as Endangered under criterion D1 on the basis that it has a population of fewer than 250 mature individuals. If this were the case, any evidence confirming the suspicion of an on-going population decline would have further implications for the species’s Red List status.
Comments are invited on this species’s threat status and further information would be welcomed, particularly on the likely population size and trend.
Anon. (2006) Stunning new babbler from Arunachal Pradesh. World Birdwatch 28: 2.
Athreya, R. (2006) A new species of Liocichla (Aves: Timaliidae) from Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Indian Birds 2: 82-94.
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