Habitat loss is the most likely threat to Phodilus prigoginei.
The Congo Bay-Owl is one of only two species in the genus Phodilus, the other being the Asian (or Oriental) bay-owl Phodilus badius, a widespread but little known lowland forest bird from northern India to Borneo. It is a rare species, having defied many attempts to relocate it since the type-specimen was collected in 1951 in a grass clearing in montane forest at Muusi, 2,430 m, in the Itombwe Mountains, ZaÃ¯re.
Owing largely to the remoteness of the area and political disturbances, there has been little scientific work at Itombwe since the early 1960's.
A Congo bay-owl was almost certainly observed on a tea estate in Burundi in the mid-1970s. Calls of an unidentified owl, structurally similar to that of the Asian bay-owl were heard in Nyungwe forest, Rwanda, in 1990; this forest is at serious (but remediable) risk. In 1996, a small Congo bay-owl was captured in Itombwe, the first positive occurrence in over 40 years.