Black Partridge Melanoperdix niger


Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - A2c+3c+4c

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Vulnerable A2c+3c+4c
2016 Vulnerable A2c+3c+4c
2012 Vulnerable A2c+3c+4c
2008 Vulnerable A2c; A3c; A4c
2004 Vulnerable
2000 Vulnerable
1994 Lower Risk/Near Threatened
1988 Near Threatened
Species attributes

Migratory status not a migrant Forest dependency High
Land mass type Land-mass type - shelf island
Land-mass type - continent
Average mass 280 g

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 1,560,000 medium
Number of locations 11-100 -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals not applicable not applicable 0
Population trend Decreasing poor suspected -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) 30-49 - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) 30-49 - - -
Number of subpopulations 2-100 - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation 1-89 - - -
Generation length (yrs) 3.9 - - -

Population justification: The population size has been previously suggested to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 mature individuals, based on a relatively high population density from related species (10 individuals per square kilometer) and an estimated low occupied proportion of the mapped range. However, there is much uncertainty in this population size. Given that there are so few recent records of the species it appears that the density used may be unrealistically high. There is no direct density estimate, primarily because encounters are so rare, despite considerable ornithological effort in multiple areas of expected occurrence. While it is a very unobtrusive species, whose vocalisations are confusing and have been poorly-known until recently (van Balen & Fischer 2016), this evidence points to occurrence at a very low density or very patchily in the available forest habitat. Noting that it is classified in a monotypic genus, inference from other species may be unwise. In addition, remapping the species's range indicates that the potential area of suitable habitat is smaller than previously judged, and occupancy is still likely to be very low in this newly estimated extent. There remains a relatively large area of potentially occupied habitat on Borneo, but that in Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra now appears to be small. As such, it is suspected that the current population size could be smaller than that previously estimated, potentially much smaller. As such a new global population estimate is a high research priority for the species.

None have been observed in Peninsular Malaysia for more than a decade (eBird 2021, D. L. Yong in litt. 2021, 2021), despite searches, and here the population is likely to be small or very small. The area of intact forest remaining in 2020 contiguous with forest containing records of the species since 1980 is c. 2,300 km2, based on the remnant intact forest after the application of the plantation layer (Peterson et al. 2016, Harris et al. 2019) and forest cover loss since the production of this layer (data from Global Forest Watch 2021). 

There are recent records in the few larger remnants of dense peat-swamp forest on Sumatra (eBird 2021, 2021), but the extent of forest cover loss here has been very rapid. Current apparently suitable forest here has an extent of 11,087 km2, (estimated as above). On the island of Borneo, a similar forest extent assessment results in potentially over 240,000 kmremaining potentially suitable habitat. However, it is unclear what proportion is actually suitable for the species as it has only been recorded at a handful of widely spaced sites on Borneo, and much of this area may actually be degraded logged forest.

Trend justification: Rates of forest loss in the Sundaic lowlands have been extremely rapid, with total forest cover loss within suitable elevations in the range of the species estimated at 32.9% over the 14 years between 2006-2020 (data from Global Forest Watch 2021). This rate of deforestation is suspected to have driven a rapid population decline in this species, which is expected to continue and may slightly accelerate: average annual rates of forest loss have increased such that projecting the average annual rate for the past five years results in a 34.3% forest cover loss over the next three generations.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Brunei N Extant Yes
Indonesia N Extant Yes
Malaysia N Extant Yes
Singapore N Extinct Yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Brunei Belait Swamp Forest
Brunei Southern Ladan Hills
Indonesia Bukit Tigapuluh
Indonesia Berbak
Indonesia Danau Sentarum
Indonesia Gunung Palung
Indonesia Tanjung Puting
Indonesia Ulu Barito
Indonesia Kayan Mentarang
Malaysia Mulu - Buda Protected Area
Malaysia Mount Kinabalu
Malaysia Krau Wildlife Reserve
Malaysia Taman Negara National Park
Malaysia Dulit Range
Malaysia Kelabit Highlands
Malaysia Selangor Heritage Park

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland major resident
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane major resident
Altitude 0 - 1200 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Agro-industry farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Rapid Declines Medium Impact: 7
Indirect ecosystem effects, Species disturbance, Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion, Species mortality
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Small-holder farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Species disturbance, Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Agriculture & aquaculture Wood & pulp plantations - Agro-industry plantations Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Rapid Declines Medium Impact: 6
Indirect ecosystem effects, Species disturbance, Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion, Species mortality
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Species mortality
Biological resource use Logging & wood harvesting - Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Ecosystem degradation
Natural system modifications Fire & fire suppression - Increase in fire frequency/intensity Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Ecosystem degradation, Species mortality

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food - human - - Non-trivial Recent
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Melanoperdix niger. Downloaded from on 05/07/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 05/07/2022.