Uluguru bush shrike (Malaconotus alius)
The slowly encroached and dwindling habitat of the Uluguru North forest reserve, poses a major threat to the survival of the rare and critically endangered, Uluguru bush-shrike. The population counts down to just 1200 pairs in the wild and its confined to a small forest patch of just 84 sq km. It is endemic to the Uluguru mountains of Tanzania, Africa. Such a rare sight that there hasn't been a photographic record of this species in the wild as yet !
When I was asked to illustrate the Uluguru Bush Shrike about three years back, I was directed to just one reference image online, which was an illustration done by Martin Woodcock. I had access to just couple species description files and that’s it. I poured over hours trying to look for more information about the bird, but didn’t find much. After browsing through image-over-image of other Bush-shrike species, I finally had a composition for the Uluguru in place. With the thick black hook-tipped bill, glossy black head, an olive green back and tail, and the yellowish underparts, the painting was done. A rigorous fast paced week it was, but soon enough the illustration was accepted to be published in “Defying extinction: Partnerships to safeguard global biodiversity” by GEF -Global Environment Facility.
The publication highlights some of the most threatened pieces of the fabric of biodiversity, specifically individual species at risk. It illustrates GEF’s efforts, their success stories and the actions required for safeguarding the future of the species under threat. The whole publication has been made available online as a PDF - here. (Page 18-19 - Uluguru Bush-Shrike)