Conservation status

As of 2002, the IUCN and BirdLife International designated five babblers as Endangered, 22 as Vulnerable, and 39 as Near Threatened. In addition, it appears that subspecies of two otherwise globally non-threatened species may be extinct: The southern Turkish bearded reedling (Panurus biarmicus kosswigi) appears to have been a victim of wetlands destruction, while the mysterious "Astley's leiothrix" (Leiothrix lutea astleyi), known only from the bird trade more than 80 years ago, may have been exterminated through trapping.

All five Endangered babblers are primarily threatened by habitat loss. All are forest birds. Two are Philippine endemics: the flame-templed babbler (Stachyris speciosa) occurs only on Negros and Panay, while the Negros striped-babbler (S. ne-grorum) is entirely restricted to that severely deforested island. The remaining three depend on high-elevation forests: the Nilgiri laughing thrush (Garrulax cachinnnans), one of many imperiled inhabitants of India's Nilgiri Hills, the white-throated mountain babbler (Kupeornis gilberti), known to science only since 1949, restricted to several places in Nigeria and Cameroon, and the gray-crowned crocias (Crocias lang-bianis), rediscovered in 1994 after 56 years of no records, from a few locations in Vietnam.

Three Vulnerable species, the Omei Shan liocichla (Lioci-chla omeiensis), found only around Mt. Emei, in southwestern China, and the white-necked and gray-necked picathartes (Pi-cathartes gymnocephalus and P. oreas), of the Guinea forests of West Africa, were vigorously exploited by the cage-bird trade, resulting in their listing by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Like the 19 other Vulnerable babblers, they are threatened by habitat destruction as well.

Fourteen island endemics, seven restricted to the Philippines, are included among the 39 Near Threatened species, and of the remainder, nine occur only in the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo. Again, loss of habitat, in often restricted ranges, is the cause for their designation. Finally, there is one categorized as Data Deficient, the miniature tit-babbler (Micromacronus leytensis), at 3 in (7.6 cm), the smallest babbler. Restricted to the Philippine islands of Leyte, Samar, and Mindanao, it is a forest-dependent species in a land of increasing deforestation, and has remained rare, and little known since its discovery in 1961.

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