Assessing the status of Handsome Francolin Francolinus nobilis in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, western Uganda
Ssemmanda, R. & Fuller, R.A. 2005. Assessing the status of Handsome Francolin Francolinus nobilis in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, western Uganda. Scopus, 25, 41–50.
The Handsome Francolin is a ground-dwelling partridge occurring in montane forest and the high-altitude bamboo zone within a restricted area along the Albertine Rift Mountains from the Bleus Mountains in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) south to Burundi. We adapted a playback technique used to census Nahan’s francolins in Uganda, and we present new data on altitudinal range, broad habitat preferences and the distribution of the species within Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. We confirmed the presence of Handsome Francolins at 1541 m above sea level, extending downward the known altitudinal range of the species, and interviews with local bird guides suggest that it occurs regularly at this altitude. However, overall the species shows a marked preference for higher-altitude areas in Bwindi, and in particular, bamboo habitat. This habitat occurs in isolated patches near mountaintops in Uganda and along the Albertine Rift. There are less than 100 ha of bamboo in Bwindi, and bamboo is regularly removed from the park. The extreme rarity of this habitat may have serious implications for the conservation status of the Handsome Francolin, and we urge a quantitative reevaluation of the species’ IUCN Red List categorisation.