© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Biodiversity information in Angola is limited or nonexistent, hindering the design and implementation of conservation strategies. The Escarpment forest is one of the most important areas for bird diversity in the country. However, there is almost no information about the territorial needs and habitat preferences of its threatened endemic birds. This study evaluated these needs and preferences in Gabela akalat Sheppardia gabela, a range-restricted endemic to the Central Escarpment. Eighteen individuals of Gabela akalat were captured and radio-tracked with the objectives of establishing their territory size (through home-range size estimates) and habitat preferences using compositional analysis. Home-range sizes were slightly larger than other Sheppardia species and Gabela akalat evidently avoided clearings and preferred forest habitat, although it was also able to use farmland areas and secondary growth to a lesser extent. Conservation measures should focus on the preservation of remaining old-growth forest through the establishment of a nature reserve in Kumbira. To assure the success of such an initiative, the local population should participate in planning, administration and enforcement. We outline some measures that could help address the economic needs of the local community while maintaining forest cover.