Sao Tome oriole (Oriolus crassirostris)

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Male São Tomé oriole
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Sao Tome oriole fact file

Sao Tome oriole description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyOriolidae
GenusOriolus (1)

Orioles are fairly large, boldly coloured, woodland and forest birds; only one species of oriole occurs on the island of São Tomé (3). Male São Tomé orioles have black heads and pale olive plumage on the upperparts, with darker wings and tail and greyish-white underparts. Touches of greyish-yellow decorate the back of the neck and the tip of the tail. Females, however, lack the bold black head and, like juveniles, have pale streaks across a darker breast (2) (3). Both sexes have a down-curved pink-red bill (2) (4), and are often detected by their loud ringing song (3)

French
Loriot de São Tomé.
Size
Length: 20 – 22 cm (2)
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Sao Tome oriole biology

All orioles belonging to the Oriolidae family feed on insects and fruit, and most build deep, cup-shaped nests in the fork of a branch (4).

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Sao Tome oriole range

Endemic to São Tomé, off the western equatorial coast of Africa. The São Tomé oriole occurs throughout the island except in the north-east (2).

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Sao Tome oriole habitat

The majority of the São Tomé oriole population occurs in lowland primary forest, but it also inhabits mid- to high-altitude forest and mature secondary forest (2) (5).

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Sao Tome oriole status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Sao Tome oriole threats

Following human colonisation, large areas of forest on São Tomé were cleared for cultivation, with 42 percent of the land being given to cocoa cultivation (5). During the 1970s, enormous quantities of pesticides were used in these cocoa plantations, greatly reducing the population of the oriole. The oriole had some chance to recover when, following a crash in cocoa prices in 1975, many cocoa plantations were abandoned and the land regenerated into secondary forest, providing suitable habitat for several endemic birds, including the São Tomé oriole (5). However, the oriole population has not fully recovered from these declines and is constantly threatened by the possibility of old plantations being brought back into production, or developed for different types of agriculture, which would almost certainly involve an increase in pesticide use (5).

The montane primary forest of the island is at immediate risk from encroaching agriculture, and any further loss of this vital habitat would seriously endanger the São Tomé oriole (5). Secondary forest on Sao Tome is also threatened by the development of agriculture and an increasing demand for timber (5). In addition, the development of roads on the island is opening up previously remote areas (2), increasing the chance of habitat loss and degradation.

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Sao Tome oriole conservation

The protection of the São Tomé oriole’s forest habitat appears to be critical to its long-term survival. A national park and a zona ecologica (ecological zone) have been proposed but await ratification (2) (6). The protection of lowland primary forest has been particularly recommended (2), but the protection of secondary forest, especially mature areas, is also required (5). Hopefully protected areas will be established before the São Tomé oriole becomes another victim of habitat loss.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For further information on the São Tomé oriole see:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2007)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. BirdLife International (April, 2008)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=5887&m=0
  3. Sinclair, I. and Ryan, P. (2003) Birds of Africa: South of the Sahara. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
  4. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  5. Peet, N.B. and Atkinson, P.W. (1994) The biodiversity and conservation of the birds of Sao Tome and Principe. Biodiversity and Conservation, 3: 851 - 867.
  6. World Database on Protected Areas (April, 2008)
    http://sea.unep-wcmc.org/wdbpa/
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Image credit

Male São Tomé oriole  
Male São Tomé oriole

© Simon Colenutt

Simon Colenutt
simon@ecosa.co.uk
http://www.ecosa.co.uk

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