Justification of Red List Category
This species has been downlisted from Near Threatened because its range is estimated to be larger than previously thought. It is now listed as Least Concern on the basis that it is not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the Red List criteria.
The population size of this species has not been quantified.
It is expected that some suitable habitat is being lost to the development of salt works and agricultural land, but this may be balanced by other areas becoming favourable for the species (C. Jackson in litt. 2013). Overall, therefore, the population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.
Anthus melindae has a restricted and relatively small range, being endemic to the coastal strip from Mombasa in Kenya north to 3°N in southern Somalia and along the lower reaches of the Tana, Jubba and Shabeelle valleys (Keith et al. 1992). It has been observed to be locally common in both countries (Zimmerman et al. 1996, Ash and Miskell 1998).
It inhabits low-lying, short grassland subject to seasonal flooding, where it feeds on insects and other arthropods (Keith et al. 1992). In Kenya, it is most numerous in coastal grasslands, and is widespread but less numerous in riparian grasslands (Lewis and Pomeroy 1989). In southern Somalia, it is most numerous around flood-pans and cultivation, with the subspecies mallablensis being restricted to coastal dunes (Keith et al. 1992). Egg-laying takes place in April-June, during the rainy season in Kenya, and a record of two half-grown nestlings in Somalia in early June suggests similar timing (del Hoyo et al. 2004). This species is monogamous and territorial. Its nest, in which 2-3 eggs are laid, is a deep, thick-walled grass cup, situated in a grass tussock (del Hoyo et al. 2004).
This species avoids rank grassland, thus any decrease in grazing and burning could render grasslands unsuitable (del Hoyo et al. 2004). Demand for arable and grazing land in Somalia is high, placing increasing pressure on diminishing water-resources, with high levels of grazing (Ash and Miskell 1988). It is not clear how this species responds to such habitat change, but there is no evidence yet that its population is becoming severely fragmented. It is expected that some habitat is being lost to the development of salt works and agricultural land, but this may be balanced by other areas becoming suitable for the species (C. Jackson in litt. 2013). The Tana River Delta is threatened by large-scale conversion for agriculture (food and biofuels), including Kenyan based organisations wanting to establish huge sugar cane plantations on over 70,000 ha of land, companies from Canada and the UK wanting to grow oil seed crops on over 60,000 ha, possible mining in the sand dunes and prospecting for oil and gas. Kenya's National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) approved these projects after considering their Environmental Impact Assessments, and if they go ahead they will convert an area of over 110,000 ha into plantations (RSPB 2012). In 2011, a high level meeting resulted in the launch of the Tana Delta planning initiative, with the process to take place over the forthcoming 18 months and the output to be a long-term strategic land-use plan representing a 'truly sustainable' future to the Delta, informed by Strategic Environmental Assessment (RSPB 2012).
Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation action is known for this species.
Text account compilers
Evans, M., O'Brien, A., Robertson, P., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Anthus melindae. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/10/2021.