This discussion was first published as part of the 2012 Red List update, but remains open for comment to enable reassessment in 2014.
Taita Falcon Falco fasciinucha is a resident of eastern and south-eastern Africa, where it is associated with the cliffs of gorges and escarpments, especially while breeding. It is listed as Near Threatened under criteria C2a(ii); D1 on the basis that it is thought to have a very small population, currently estimated at only c.1,000 mature individuals, with previously no evidence of any decline in the population despite potential threats from pesticide use, human disturbance, infrastructure development and competition from other raptors for food and nest-sites.
The species has formerly been regarded as secure owing to the relative inaccessibility of its breeding habitats. Recently, however, declines have been noted in the number of breeding sites in Zimbabwe (per A. Botha in litt. 2011) where it occurs at its highest known densities in southern Africa (Hockey et al. 2005 and references therein). The current paucity of data and very few known breeding locations make assessing population trends very difficult.
The species could suffer locally from a proposed dam on the Zambezi, and pesticide spraying in northern Zimbabwe has also raised concerns (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). It is also potentially threatened by habitat loss through the clearing of woodland, but its rarity is regarded as probably a function of its specialisation (Hockey et al. 2005 and references therein). In southern Africa, the species occurs where Peregrine Falcon F. peregrinus densities are relatively high, suggesting that they overlap in resource requirements, but F. peregrinus may also competitively exclude F. fasciinucha from some areas (Hockey et al. 2005 and references therein).
Further information on the species is requested from all parts of its range, with particular emphasis on population estimates and trends, as well as likely threats.
Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D. A. (2001) Raptors of the world. London: Christopher Helm.
Hockey, P. A. R., Dean, W. R. J. and Ryan, P. G. (2005) Roberts birds of southern Africa. 7th edition. Cape Town, South Africa: Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund.
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