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 occurs locally in the Red Sea foothills and western ramparts of south-west Arabia (Winkler et al. 1995), from 13°N in Yemen to 26°N in Saudi Arabia (Jennings 2010).
It 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.7,500 pairs which equates to c.15,000 mature individuals. This is considerably larger than the 2,500-9,999 mature individuals currently estimated by BirdLife International.
Given this new population estimate the species may no longer qualify for Vulnerable status under criterion C.
A recent assessment of the conservation status of birds breeding in the Arabian Peninsula (Symes et al. 2015) assessed the species as Vulnerable under A2ac+3c+4ac. The population was estimated to be declining by >30% but <50% over three generations (16 years), owing largely to a loss of acacia woodland through cutting for timber and fodder, aridification and overgrazing.
According to BirdLife’s global assessment of this species the population is currently inferred to be in continuing decline. However in the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia (Jennings 2010) it is suggested that its range and population have remained stable since the species was described early in the 20th century (Jennings 2010). Furthermore the species is reported to have remained stable since 2010 (J. Babbington and P. Roberts in litt. 2016).
We require clarification of the species’s population trend. Is there evidence to show that the species is in continuing decline? Information to show that the population is not in continuing decline would support downlisting from Vulnerable under C2a(ii). Is the population likely to be declining by >30% but <50% over three generations? If this rate of decline is confirmed then the species would remain Vulnerable but under A2ac+3c+4ac.
Confirmation that the population is >10,000 mature individuals and that the species is not experiencing a continuing decline would warrant downlisting the species to Near Threatened or Least Concern. However should the population trend be confirmed to lie between a decline of 30-50% then it should remain as Vulnerable.
We welcome any comments or information to clarify whether the species should remain classified as Vulnerable or whether it warrants downlisting to Near Threatened or Least Concern.
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.