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36. Congo Bay-owl

Phodilus prigoginei


Only two records of this beautiful owl exist, both of which were of female birds – the male of the species is yet to be described.

The type specimen (the original individual from which this species was described) was found in 1951 in the Itombwe Massif in Democratic Republic of Congo. The most recent sighting occurred in 1996 on the same mountain region, confirming that the species was not extinct. Very little is known about the Congo Bay-owl’s population size, ecology or breeding habits and this needs to be remedied before conservation efforts can begin. The main threat to this species is the clearing of habitat for small-scale agriculture by local farmers in Itombwe, where a maize blight since the early 1990s has reduced yields and forced farmers to clear forest for new farms. The Itombwe Massif itself is threatened by logging, mining, wild fires and forest clearance. A plan has been developed to create core protected areas as well as zones designated for sustainable use and human development.

  • Order: Strigiformes
  • Family: Tytonidae
  • Population: 3,500-15,000
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 23-29 cm
  • Weight: 195g

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.32 (?)
ED Score: 24.57 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


The Congo Bay-owl is known primarily from the Itombwe Massif in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are reports that the species may inhabit the Nyungwe Forest in western Rwanda/Burundi (opposite the Itombe Massif). There was a possible sighting in 1974 and a number of cases of similar songs being recorded within the forest.

Habitat and Ecology

Little is known of this species, but it is thought to need a habitat mosaic of grassland, and mountain or bamboo forest.

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Conservation Actions

For each key category of conservation action, we calculated a conservation attention score based on expert information. In this graph, a higher score means the action is being carried out more intensively over more of the species range. The colour shows how important each action is considered to be for the conservation of this species.

Engaging stakeholders
Addressing threats
Status of knowledge
Management plan
Capacity building
Behaviour change
Awareness raising
  Score: 100 means the activity occurs at high level across more than 75% of the species range
Very Low

Overall Conservation Attention

We combined all of the expert information on conservation actions to calculate an overall conservation attention score for this species. Please help us to reach our goal of establishing dedicated conservation attention at “High” levels for all EDGE species.

Very Low Low Medium High

More information

Recent studies have grouped all possible conservation activities for any species into nine key categories (Washington et. al 2015). For each action, we asked experts for each species to assess the extent to which that action is being carried out and how much of the species’ range that action occurs in. For each action we used these two pieces of information to calculate the conservation attention score per action. A score of 100 means that the action is being carried out to a high level across at least 75% of the species range. We then combined the scores for all actions into an overall conservation attention score for the species. The experts also judged how important each category was to the conservation of that particular species.

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Habitat change Crops Livestock

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
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