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The Long-billed Forest-warbler, endemic to Tanzania, is thriving in its natural habitat.

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(N.J. Cordeiro, L. Borghesio, K. Ndang’ang’a, Jude Fuhnwi; 15 March 2017)

One of the world’s rarest birds appears to occur in slightly higher numbers than previously thought. The bird is also responding positively to conservation efforts that involve working with farmers to allow re-growth of vegetation necessary for the birds. This has offered the opportunity for the bird to recolonise some areas, in what bird conservation experts say provides new hope for the species’ small population found only in Tanzania, East Africa.

About 100 – 200 pairs of the Long-billed Forest-warbler Artisornis moreaui (previously also known as Long-billed Tailorbird) are present in the East Usambara Mountains in north-eastern Tanzania, the only place where the species is found, according to annual surveys. Intensive research and conservation work had previously focused on Amani Nature Reserve. However, recent emphasis in Nilo Nature Reserve, a protected area found north of the Amani Nature Reserve, has resulted in more records. Surveys were done by the BirdLife Species Guardian, the local field team and other experts from the University of Dar es Salaam. This new figure represents more than 50% of population assessment made in 2000, when only 150 – 200 individuals were estimated to be in the Amani Nature Reserve.

BirdLife supports conservation of the tailorbird on farms bordering the forest, where the land is leased and vegetation allowed to regenerate naturally without disturbance. These farm plots started as an experiment in 2012 by Nsajigwa Kyonjola, a masters student of the University of Dar es Salaam and was supported in part by the African Bird Club. Results after four years of natural regeneration on these farm plots show that the tailorbird has colonised 50% of these restored plots.

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