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Animal Database
Animal Database
Bocage's Akalat (Sheppardia bocagei)
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Passeriformes
Family Muscicapidae
Genus Sheppardia

Sheppardia or akalats, is a genus of Old World flycatchers. They were formerly placed in the family Turdidae (thrushes), but are more often now treated as part of the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae.


Sharpe, who had never visited Africa, associated the akalats, in their Bulu appellation, with birds of "different kinds" occurring in the forest understorey. His main collector in West Africa, George L. Bates, denoted them more specifically as "little members of the genus Turdinus, which are called in Fang and Bulu "Akalat"....". The latter genus denoted a group of Old World babblers, currently classed as near-babblers in the genus Illadopsis. The latter genus denoted a group of Old World babblers, currently classed as near-babblers in the genus Illadopsis.

Bannerman's volumes on West African birds, published from 1930 through to 1951, became well-established reference works for the region, and retained the name akalat for Trichastoma, which is Illadopsis. Reichenow however classed Turdinus batesi as an Alethe, then in the Turdidae (thrushes and flycatchers), followed by Jackson and Sclater in 1938 who applied it to Sheppardia specifically. Mackworth-Praed and Grant (1953, 1955) and Williams (1963 - 1980s) retained their usage. In 1964 the name was still recorded as denoting both groups, namely the Malococincla, i.e. Illadopsis near-babblers in West Africa, and the Sheppardia chats in East African literature, though the latter convention prevailed in modern times.

Yet the calls of the aforementioned species only doubtfully agree with the akalat's appellation as an omen of death. It is recorded that the akalat's forest song, respectively referred to as "boofio" and "woofio" by the Bulu and Ntumu peoples, is believed by them to predict the death of a near parent who bids them farewell with this song.


Equatorial Akalat (Jackson, 1906) (Sheppardia aequatorialis)
Rubeho Akalat (Beresford, Fjeldså, & Kiure, 2004) (Sheppardia aurantiithorax)
Bocage's Akalat (Finsch & Hartlaub, 1870) (Sheppardia bocagei)
Lowland Akalat (Sharpe, 1901) (Sheppardia cyornithopsis)
Gabela Akalat (Rand, 1957) (Sheppardia gabela)
East Coast Akalat (Haagner, 1909) (Sheppardia gunningi)
Iringa Akalat (C. H. B. Grant & Mackworth-Praed, 1941) (Sheppardia lowei)
Usambara Akalat (Reichenow, 1907) (Sheppardia montana)
Sharpe's Akalat (Shelley, 1903) (Sheppardia sharpei)