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.
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 What habitat has been lost (in Yemen) may have been replaced by other habitats such as gardens and parks which did not previously exist in Saudi Arabia (M. Jennings in litt. 2016).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.
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.