Aug 23, 2014

Another bad year for Taita apalis

We have just received data from this year's monitoring and, as it appears, this was another really bad year for Taita apalis.

Standardized counts show that numbers went down by about 50% since 2013 in the species' main stronghold - Ngangao forest. Putting the records on a map shows it clearly: between 2001 and 2014, the decrement is in the order of 90%. At this rate, the extinction of the species in Ngangao might be no more than one or two years away.

Ngangao used to host more than 60% of the global population no more than ten years ago.

Things are not going better in the other forest fragments where the species occurs - we obtained no records from Chawia, Fururu and Mbololo for more than two years. We suspect that  Taita apalis is now very rare or even locally extinct in these forest fragments.

Only Msidunyi and Vuria, the two fragments located at the highest elevations, have relatively stable numbers in the last years. But the area of these two forests is tiny: little more than 100ha of suitable habitat remains there.

Our research continues to identify the causes of the so far unstoppable decline. We already know that some apalis territories were lost along forest edges due to direct human disturbance, but the story is more complicated, because we noticed severe declines even in the best preserved, and apparently undisturbed, parts of the forest. It is a race against time, and the clock is ticking fast.

Acknowledgments: We thank RSPB for funding this work.
Records of Taita apalis in Ngangao forest, the species' main stronghold

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