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Sao Tome Fiscal Lanius newtoni
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BirdLife Species Guardian Associação dos Biólogos Santomenses
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This species qualifies as Critically Endangered because it is believed to have a tiny population. It occupies a very small area of primary forest which, although it is not threatened, remains unprotected and might be vulnerable to alteration in the future. It is unclear whether introduced predators are impacting its population. If its population size proves to be larger than suspected it may warrant downlisting to Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

20-21 cm. Long-tailed forest shrike. Black above with white scapular flash, which may be tinged yellow. Pale yellow chin, breast, belly, flanks, vent and undertail-coverts. Graduated tail with all black central tail feathers and increasing amount of white on outer web from inner to outer tail feathers. Young birds show a vermiculated buff and black plumage (Leventis and Olmos 2009). Voice Clear whistled tiuh tiuh often repeated and metallic tsink tsink audible over a long distance.

Distribution and population
Lanius newtoni is endemic to the island of São Tomé, Sao Tomé and Príncipe. Previously known only from records in 1888 and 1928, it was rediscovered in 1990, with the observation of a single bird near the source of the rio Xufexufe, in the south-west of the island (Atkinson et al. 1991). Since 1994, there have been regular records from the Xufexufe catchment (Christy and Clarke 1998), a record of two birds from Valverde in the valley of the rio Ió Grande in the centre of the island (S. d'Assis Lima in litt. 1998), five birds from an area of primary forest near the Ió Grande (Scollaert and Willem 2001) in the south-east and a single bird south of Formoso Pequeno, in the Bombaím area. Surveys in 2007 and since have recorded birds at Ribeira Peixe and Ana Chaves (F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008, Olmos and Turshak 2007, Associação de Biólogos Saotomenses in litt. 2010, H Maia et al. in litt. 2010), and the species was recorded at Estação Sousa (at c.1,400 m) in 2008 (Maia and Alberto 2009, Leventis and Olmos 2009). Its population is unknown, but is likely to be tiny given the limited area of suitable habitat. However, a number of recent sightings have expanded its known range, hence the population may be greater than previously thought (A. Gascoigne in litt. 2010). Anecdotal reports suggest that it has declined in some areas as human disturbance increased (F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008), but these claims need substantiating.

Population justification
A number of recent sightings have expanded its known range, hence the population may be greater than previously thought (A. Gascoigne in litt. 2010). A survey of 291 one km2 quadrats on São Tomé in July-September 2014 recorded 91 individuals (Ward-Francis et al. 2015). It is precautionarily assumed to have a tiny population of fewer than 50 mature individuals, given the limited area of suitable habitat.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be declining as a result of ongoing habitat degradation, and possibly also the impacts of introduced predators.

All records are from primary lowland and mid-altitude forest up to c. 1,400 m (Maia and Alberto 2009), in sites with little or no undergrowth, but with bare ground and rocks (Atkinson et al. 1991, Christy and Clarke 1998). Many records are from ridgetops (Scollaert and Willem 2001) and along watercourses, so the species may have a linear or patchy distribution (Olmos and Turshak 2007, Olmos and Turshak 2010). Its apparent association with watercourses may indicate a preference for open areas in forest, such as gullies and riversides (Olmos and Turshak 2010). The breeding season is unknown but may be early in the year, prior to the dry season (F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008).

Historically, large areas of lowland and mid-altitude forest were cleared for cocoa and coffee plantations. Today, land privatisation is leading to an increase in the number of small farms and the clearance of trees. This does not currently affect primary forest but may be a threat in the future. Suitable habitat, including that in protected areas, is affected by disturbance through hunting and palm-wine harvesting activities (Olmos and Turshak 2010). Birds may have declined in the Bombaim area as disturbance has increased owing to people harvesting for palm-wine (F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008). Agricultural encroachment in the more accessible areas of Obô Natural Park, such as Bom Sucesso, was evident in 2008, and hunting and palm-wine harvesting were widespread, with shelters constructed inside the park (Olmos and Turshak 2010).

Plans to develop coffee plantations and restore and extend 630 ha of abandoned palm-oil plantations (to cover more than 2,000 ha; ready for harvest in 2013) in the vicinity of the core zone of Obô Natural Park and encroaching into its buffer zone (J. Tavares in litt. 2010) are likely to result in the loss of suitable habitat and potentially have both positive and negative influences on levels of disturbance (Olmos and Turshak 2010). The palm-oil project, however, reportedly incorporates the protection of some primary and mature secondary forest (J. Tavares in litt. 2010). More recent plans aim to plant 5,000 ha with oil palm, in an area that included rich secondary forest zone in the boundaries of Obô Natural Park (Barros 2013). New road networks linking oil palm concessions may increase habitat fragmentation and disturbance (Ward-Francis et al. 2015). Road developments along the east and west coasts are increasing access to previously remote areas (A. Gascoigne in litt. 2000). Illegal logging in the south of the island has been identified as a further threat (Ward-Francis et al. 2015). Introduced black rat (Rattus rattus), mona monkey (Cercopithecus mona), civets and stoats are potential predators (Atkinson et al. 1991, F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008) and feral pigs are present (F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008). A proposal to construct a hydroelectric dam within Obô Natural Park posed a serious threat; this project has now ceased however future power projects remain a threat (Ward-Francis et al. 2015).

Conservation and Research Actions Underway
Primary forest is protected as a zona ecologica and in the 295 km2 Obô Natural Park, although there is no law enforcement within these areas and the lack of data about the species's ecological requirements makes it difficult to assess the benefits of these areas. The park was established in 1992, but was not protected by law until 2006, and although a zoning and management plan was being developed in 2008, when the first directors were appointed, the park was still lacking sufficient personnel (Olmos and Turshak 2010). A law providing for the gazetting of protected areas and the protection of threatened species has been ratified (F. Olmos in litt. 2007, 2008). In 2008, a training programme with NGOs Associação de Biólogos Saotomenses (ABS) and Monte Pico was initiated to involve locals in the study and conservation of São Tomean species, and this has since been achieved (Associação de Biólogos Saotomenses in litt. 2010). As part of the BirdLife International Preventing Extinctions Programme, the Species Guardian ABS has begun training local community members in the implementation of site-based conservation and has been conducting an awareness-raising campaign (BirdLife International 2008). During an international workshop held in February 2008 to promote ecotourism in São Tomé e Príncipe, birdwatching was listed as an activity that should be encouraged and Ribeira Peixe was identified as a suitable site for a pilot project (Olmos and Turshak 2010). In July 2009, ABS promoted a short course for the training of local people as bird guides at Ribeira Peixe and efforts were on-going to promote the conservation of the area (Olmos and Turshak 2010). The Government are developing an open access database to collate all biodiversity data for the island which will be used to inform land-use decisions (Ward-Francis et al. 2015). A workshop was held in January 2015, which included participants from the Government, to discuss progress towards an International Species Action Plan for the species (Ward-Francis et al. 2015).

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Research its population size, distribution, ecological requirements and key threats, including possible predation by introduced mammals, in order to produce conservation recommendations. Ensure legal protection of all remaining lowland primary forest. Incorporate species conservation measures within the Obô Natural Park management plan and develop capacity for park management (Ward-Francis et al. 2015). Ensure that any proposed hydroelectric dam developments are not within Obô Natural Park (Ward-Francis et al. 2015). List it as a protected species under national law. Actively manage and protect the recently gazetted protected areas. Continue to promote the conservation of the Ribeira Peixe area. Closely monitor the impacts of projects to develop and restore plantations.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Atkinson, P.; Peet, N.; Alexander, J. 1991. The status and conservation of the endemic bird species of Sao Tomé and Príncipe, West Africa. Bird Conservation International 1: 255-282.

Barros, N. 2013. Mapping a palm oil company's effect on local biodiversity in São Tomé and Príncipe. BirdLife Africa Newsletter 13(7): 13.

BirdLife International. 2008. Species Guardian Action Update: November 2008: Dwarf Olive Ibis Bostrichia bocagei, São Tomé Fiscal Lanius newtoni, São Tomé Grosbeak Neospiza concolor. Available at: #

Christy, P.; Clarke, W. V. 1998. Guide des Oiseaux de Sao Tome et Principe. ECOFAC, Sao Tome.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Leventis, A. P.; Olmos, F. 2009. The birds of São Tomé e Príncipe: a photoguide. Editora Aves e Fotos, São Paulo.

Maia, H. A.; Alberto, A. C. 2009. The occurrence of São Tomé Short-tail Amaurocichla bocagei and Newton's Fiscal Lanius newtoni. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 129(4): 213-216.

Olmos, F.; Turshak, L. 2007. Final report on the fact-finding trip to Angola and Sao Tome and Principe July-August 2007..

Olmos, F.; Turshak, L. G. 2010. Bird observations from São Tomé: Monte Carmo as a priority conservation site. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 17(1): 54-65.

Schollaert, V.; Willem, V. 2001. A new site for Newton's Fiscal Lanius newtoni. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 8(1): 21-22.

Ward-Francis, A., Costa, L., Sampaio, H. and Lima, R. 2015. Reducing the extinction risk of the three Critically Endangered birds of São Tomé. Interim Report AFR-1411 - F14AP00529. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves, University of Lisbon.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Species Guardian Action Update

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Peet, N., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Wright, L & Ashpole, J

Gascoigne, A., Maia, H., Olmos, F., Tavares, J. & d'Assis Lima, S.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Lanius newtoni. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Sao Tome fiscal (Lanius newtoni)

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Critically Endangered
Family Laniidae (Shrikes)
Species name author Barboza du Bocage, 1891
Population size 1-49 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 400 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species