Published online by Cambridge University Press: 25 November 2004
The western Angola Endemic Bird Area has 14 range-restricted species. Little is known about the conservation status of the region's birds due to the civil war that has raged in Angola for the last 27 years. The greatest diversity of restricted-range species is found in Cuanza Sul province, and given the uncertainty about their current status, many of these species are listed as Threatened. In this paper we report the first significant ornithological visits to the Gabela region since 1974. We visited an extensive scarp forest patch at Kumbira Primero, near Conda, as well as smaller forest areas along the Sumbe–Gabela and Sumbe–Seles roads. Most of the threatened species were relocated, including several species not seen since the 1970s. Gabela Bush-shrike Laniarius amboimensis was common and Monteiro's Bush-shrike Malaconotus monteiri was fairly common in degraded secondary forest, old coffee plantations and primary forest at Kumbira. Pulitzer's Longbill Macrosphenus pulitzeri was fairly common at higher elevations at Kumbira as well as in the dense understorey of secondary forest west of Seles. Gabela Akalat Sheppardia gabela was less common, with only three birds found at Kumbira and one near Seles, but may have been overlooked. Only one group of eight Gabela Helmet-shrike Prionops gabela was recorded, in open woodland at the base of the scarp between Kumbira and Seles. Angola Cave-chat Xenocopsychus ansorgei was found on the rocky slopes above the forest at Kumbira. We describe the first sound recordings for five threatened species, which will help future systematic surveys of the region's forests. Vocal evidence confirms the close relationship between Gabela Bush-shrike and Lühder's Bush-shrike L. luehderi. The most pressing need is to assess the extent of remaining forests, map the distribution of key species of conservation concern, and then draft a strategy to conserve key habitat blocks.