Working for birds in Africa

The taxonomic and conservation status of Chapin’s Crombec Sylvietta (leucophrys) chapini.

p 130-135

Chapin's Crombec Sylvietta leucophrys chapini is only known from three specimens collected in the 1940s on the Lendu Plateau, north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Although originally described as a species, it has since commonly been treated as a subspecies of White-browed Crombec S. leucophrys. In a number of recent works, however, it has again been recognised specifically, thus prompting this review of its status. The head of chapini is uniformly bright chestnut and lacks the conspicuous white eyebrow of the other two races of S. leucophrys. Apart from the brown of the head being somewhat brighter in chapini, it otherwise closely resembles leucophrys and, in the absence of vocal evidence, we believe the taxon is best retained as a distinct subspecies. Obtaining such evidence will be problematic: not only does continuing civil unrest in the region prevent any field work, but there is also doubt as to whether chapini still exists, as it is feared forest clearance on Lendu may have led to its extinction. Information from the mid 1990s indicated that some forest did then remain but further work, when circumstances permit, is urgently needed as, irrespective of its taxonomic rank, Chapin's Crombec strongly merits conservation.

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