Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 November 2003
We report the results of a survey of Fischer's turaco Tauraco fischeri in Unguja (otherwise known as Zanzibar). We estimated the species' range, population size and habitat selection using unlimited distance point counts. The main results are: 1) Fischer's turaco is more widely distributed in the coral rag zone than previously thought, with an area of occupancy estimated at 56 km2, 2) the species does not occur in agricultural habitats and tree plantations, 3) within natural habitats it selects places with denser tree cover, 4) food availability does not differ between occupied and unoccupied sites, and 5) the turaco population on Unguja was estimated at c. 1,400 individuals. Only 44% of the population is in protected areas, and habitat degradation is occurring at a high rate. Only 16% of the habitat occupied by Fischer's turaco on the island has low signs of human impact. Present levels of exploitation of natural habitats on Unguja appear to be unsustainable and it seems likely that all unprotected forests on the island will be lost within a few years. The range of Fischer's turaco is highly fragmented and the population is likely to be decreasing. This turaco was often observed in places where other threatened species were also present, suggesting that it could be both a flagship and an umbrella species for the implementation of wider habitat conservation strategies. The conservation status of Fischer's turaco should be reconsidered, with its IUCN threat-category upgraded from Lower Concern: near threatened to Vulnerable.