Current distribution, breeding population and habitat use of the globally threatened Grey-necked Picathartes Picathartes oreas in south-eastern Nigeria: a call for conservation action
The Grey-necked Picathartes Picathartes oreas is a globally threatened bird species in Africa with a wild population of less than 10,000 individuals. The Nigerian population, which has been poorly studied, is restricted to the forest of Cross River. This study re-assessed the distribution, breeding population, habitat use and current threats of the Grey-necked Picathartes by revisiting the 91 breeding sites identified during the first and only survey of the species in 1987. We estimated a breeding population of 164 individuals across 82 breeding sites. Only 72 breeding sites were found in the localities where 91 had been registered in 1987. Thirteen (18%) of these 72 sites were no longer active and showed evidence of human disturbance. The occurrence of Grey-necked Picathartes’ nest sites was positively predicted by higher number of emergent trees, larger rocks and negatively related to disturbance matrices. Similarly, larger colony sizes were associated with high canopy cover and rock height. Also, the probability of finding an active nest within a breeding colony was significantly predicted by increased canopy, tree density and ground cover. Human threats included farming, wire snares, egg and juvenile removal, bush burning, and hunter’s camps. These threats, though specific to the Grey-necked Picathartes, threaten the integrity of the Cross River forest habitats.
Keywords: breeding population, conservation action, distribution, Grey-necked Picathartes, threat