Archived 2017 topics: Yemen Thrush (Turdus menachensis): downlist from Vulnerable to Near Threatened or Least Concern?

This discussion was first published as part of the 2016 Red List update. At the time a decision regarding its status was pended, but to enable potential reassessment of this species as part of the 2017 Red List update this post remained open and the date of posting was updated.

BirdLife species factsheet for Yemen Thrush

This species is endemic to the south-western Arabian Peninsula, occurring in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, north to 21°N (Bowden 1987). The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

The species is currently listed as Vulnerable under C2a(ii) because the population is estimated to be <10,000 mature individuals, the population is observed, estimated, projected or inferred to be undergoing a continuing decline and 100% mature individuals are found in one subpopulation.

Data from the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia (Jennings 2010) provides a population estimate of c.10,000 pairs. This equates to c.20,000 mature individuals which is considerably larger than the 2,500-9,999 mature individuals currently estimated by BirdLife International.

Given this new population estimate the species no longer qualifies for Vulnerable status under criterion C.

Furthermore it is not clear whether the species is undergoing a continuing decline. What habitat has been lost (in Yemen) may have been replaced by other habitats such as gardens and parks which did not previously exist in Saudi Arabia (M. Jennings in litt. 2016). A decline has been reported for the species in Asir (M. Jennings in litt. 2016). However overall the population trend is not clear and more information is sought.

A recent assessment of the conservation status of birds breeding in the Arabian Peninsula (Symes et al. 2015) assessed the species as Least Concern. The assessment reports that the population may be declining but by <20% in three generations.

We require clarification of the species’s population trend. Is the species undergoing a continuing decline?

Owing to the population estimate of >10,000 mature individuals and the possibility that the species may no longer be experiencing a continuing decline does the species merit downlisting to Near Threatened or Least Concern?

We welcome any comments on this proposed downlisting.

 

References

Bowden, C. G. R. (1987) The Yemen Thrush in North Yemen. Sandgrouse: 87-89.

Jennings, M.C. (2010) Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia. Fauna of Arabia, Volume 25.

Symes, A., Taylor, J., Mallon, D., Porter, R., Simms, C. and Budd, K. (2015) The Conservation Status and Distribution of the Breeding Birds of the Arabian Peninsula. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – Regional Assessment.

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4 Responses to Archived 2017 topics: Yemen Thrush (Turdus menachensis): downlist from Vulnerable to Near Threatened or Least Concern?

  1. Richard Porter says:

    Because the fortunes of Yemen are so volatile and because there haven’t been any reliable assessments of the changes to habitats (and bird populations) in recent years it would be prudent to downlist this species to Near Threatened (and not Least Concern).

    (I am making this same comment for all SW Arabian endemics under review)

  2. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Based on available information, our proposal for the 2016 Red List would be to pend the decision on this species and keep this discussion open until 2017, while leaving the current Red List category unchanged in the 2016 update.

    Final 2016 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  3. Richard Porter says:

    We are starting to learn of increased pressure on birds because of the serious conflict situation in Yemen and, as a consequence, shortages of food. Thus birds are being killed for protein in apparently increasing numbers. Whilst the Yemen Thrush would not be high on the target list as it is rather secretive and does not breed colonially, I feel that it downlisting below Near-threatened would be unwise, until we are better able to assess the situation in Yemen. We do not know, for example, if Acacia trees and other trees, in which it breeds, are being cut for fuel as the economic pressures on Yemen increase. I am making this same comment for all the SW Arabian endemics under review.

  4. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2017 Red List would be to list:

    Yemen Thrush as Near Threatened under criterion C2a(ii).

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 4 August, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from the initial proposal.

    The final 2017 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

Comments are closed.