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 Melodious Lark: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=8095
Mirafra cheniana is found predominantly in grasslands in South Africa, with scattered populations in Botswana and Zimbabwe. It is currently classified as Near Threatened as it was suspected to be undergoing moderately rapid population declines.
This species has recently been downlisted from Near Threatened to Least Concern in the 2015 Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland (Taylor et al. 2015) because despite possible Extent of Occurrence declines of >30% between Southern African Bird Atlas Projects (SABAPs) (which would qualify it as Vulnerable under A2c) the length of time between projects is greater than 3 generations (11 years) and the reduction in its Area of Occupancy is well below the threshold for concern (Taylor et al. 2015). Additional analyses of SABAP data suggest there may even be a range increase for this species (Lee et al. in press).
We welcome any further information and comments, and any confirmation that the species is not undergoing moderately rapid declines may qualify it for downlisting to Least Concern.
Lee, A.; Barnard, P.; Altwegg, R. (in press) Estimating conservation metrics from atlas data: the case of southern African endemic birds. Bird Conservation International.
Taylor, M. R.; Peacock, F.; Wanless, R. M. 2015. The 2015 Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.