Overview

Distribution

Range Description

Struthio molybdophanes is found in north-east Africa, with its range incorporating Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Numbers have noticeably decreased since the late 1980s, with total disappearance from some areas, although flocks of 40 are still seen in the southern Danakil (Ash and Atkins 2009).
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Range

S Ethiopia to Somalia and adjacent ne Kenya.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The species is often encountered alone or in pairs in a variety of habitats including semi-arid and arid grassland, dense thornbush and woodland (Davies 2002, Ash and Atkins 2009).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2cd+3cd+4cd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S.

Contributor/s

Justification
This newly-split species is suspected to be undergoing a rapid decline over three generations (50 years) given the apparent severity of a variety of threats including hunting for feathers and food, egg collection and habitat loss and degradation. It has therefore been listed as Vulnerable, but better information on population trends and the scope and severity of threats is highly desirable.
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Population

Population
The population size has not been quantified owing to recent taxonomic splits.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Ash and Atkins (2009) document threats to and apparent declines in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The eggs are used as ornaments, water containers and symbols or protective devices on churches and graves, birds are shot for target practice, food, leather and feathers, and chased to exhaustion or death by drivers. Habitat loss and degradation undoubtedly represents a further threat.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation and research actions in place

Conservation and research actions proposed
Obtain population and trend estimates, and ascertain severity of threats. Combat hunting and egg collecting via awareness-raising campaigns.
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Wikipedia

Somali ostrich

The Somali ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes) is a large flightless bird native to the Horn of Africa. It was previously considered a subspecies of the ostrich, but was identified as a distinct species in 2014.[1]

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

Molecular evidence indicates that the East African Rift has served as a geographic barrier to isolate the taxon from the nominate subspecies, the North African ostrich S. c. camelus, while ecological and behavioural differences have kept it genetically distinct from the neighbouring Masai ostrich S. c. massaicus.[2] An examination of the mitochondrial DNA of Struthio taxa, including the extinct Arabian ostrich S. c. syriacus, has found that the Somali ostrich is phylogenetically the most distinct, appearing to have diverged from their common ancestor some 3.6 to 4.1 million years ago.[2][3]

Description[edit]

Though generally similar to other ostriches, the skin of the neck and thighs of the Somali ostrich is grey-blue (rather than pinkish), becoming bright blue on the male during the mating season. The neck lacks a typical broad white ring, and the tail feathers are white. The females are slightly larger than the males and browner in plumage than other female ostriches.[4][5]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The Somali ostrich is mostly found in Horn of Africa, specially in north-eastern Ethiopia and across all of Somalia. Its range corresponding roughly to the area known as the Horn of Africa.[4]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

The Somali ostrich is differentiated ecologically from the Masai ostrich, with which there is some range overlap, by preferring bushier, more thickly vegetated areas, where it feeds largely by browsing, whereas the latter is mainly a grazer on open savanna. There are also reports of interbreeding difficulties between the two taxa.[2]

Status and conservation[edit]

A report to the IUCN in 2006 suggests that the Somali ostrich was common in the central and southern regions of Somalia in the 1970s and 1980s. However, following the political disintegration of that country and the lack of any effective wildlife conservation, its range and numbers there have since been shrinking as a result of uncontrolled hunting for meat, medicinal products and eggs, with the bird facing eradication in the Horn of Africa.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2014). "Struthio molybdophanes". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Freitag, Stephanie; & Robinson, Terence J. (1993). "Phylogeographic patterns in mitochondrial DNA of the Ostrich (Struthio camelus)". The Auk 110 (3): 614–622. doi:10.2307/4088425. 
  3. ^ Robinson, Terence J.; & Matthee, Conrad A. (1999). "Molecular genetic relationships of the extinct ostrich, Struthio camelus syriacus: consequences for ostrich introductions into Saudi Arabia". Animal Conservation 2 (3): 165–171. doi:10.1111/j.1469-1795.1999.tb00062.x. 
  4. ^ a b Shanawany, M.M.; & Dingle, John. (1999). Ostrich production systems, Part 1. Food and Agriculture Organisation. p. 12. ISBN 978-92-5-104300-4. 
  5. ^ Roots, Clive (2006). Flightless birds. Greenwood Press. p. 26. ISBN 0-313-33545-1. 
  6. ^ Amir, Osman G. (2006). Wildlife trade in Somalia. World Conservation Union – Species Survival Commission. p. 12. 
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