Thursday, May 14, 2009

ENV: Globally Critically Endangered Birds

BirdLife International announces more Critically Endangered birds than ever before
BirdLife International, 14-05-2009

BirdLife International's latest evaluation of the world's birds has revealed that more species than ever are threatened with extinction. A staggering 1,227 species (12%) are now classified as Globally Threatened but the good news is that when conservation action is put in place, species can be saved.

"In global terms, things continue to get worse – but there are some real conservation success stories this year to give us hope and point the way forward", said Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife's Director of Science and Policy.

BirdLife International's annual Red List update, on behalf of the IUCN, now lists 192 species of bird as Critically Endangered, the highest threat category, a total of two more than in the 2008 update.

A recently discovered species from Colombia - Gorgeted Puffleg Eriocnemis isabellae - appears for the first time on the BirdLife/IUCN Red List, being listed as Critically Endangered. The puffleg, a flamboyantly coloured hummingbird, only has 1,200 hectares of habitat remaining in the cloud forests of the Pinche mountain range in south-west Colombia and 8% of this is being damaged every year to grow coca.

Sidamo Lark Heteromirafra sidamoensis from the Liben Plain of Ethiopia has also been uplisted to this category due to changes in land use, and is in danger of becoming mainland Africa’s first bird extinction. And coinciding with the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, one of the Galapagos finches, Medium Tree-finch Camarhynchus pauper also becomes Critically Endangered, partly as a result of an introduced parasitic fly.

But it's not only rare birds that are becoming rarer, common birds are becoming less common. In eastern North America, Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica is fast disappearing from the skies. Following continent-wide declines of nearly 30% in the last decade alone, this common species has been uplisted to Near Threatened.

"Across Africa, widespread birds of prey are also disappearing at an alarming rate, and emblematic species such as Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus) and Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus) have been uplisted as a result. These declines are mirrored in many species, in every continent", said Jez Bird, BirdLife's Global Species Programme Officer.

"In global terms, things continue to get worse – but there are some real conservation success stories this year to give us hope and point the way forward" —Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife's Director of Science and Policy

But it's not all doom and gloom, conservation does work and there are some great examples in this year's BirdLife/IUCN Red List. In Brazil, Lear's Macaw Anodorhynchus leari has been downlisted from Critically Endangered. Named after the English poet, this spectacular blue parrot has increased four-fold in numbers as a result of a joint effort of many national and international non-governmental organisations, the Brazilian government and local landowners.

In New Zealand, Chatham Petrel Pterodroma axillaris has benefited from work by the New Zealand Department of Conservation and has consequently been downlisted from Critically Endangered. And in Mauritius the stunning, Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra has been rescued from the brink after the translocation and establishment of a new population on to a predator-free offshore island. It has now been downlisted to Endangered.

Similar work is now also underway for 32 Critically Endangered species as part of the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

“Both the petrel and fody have suffered from introduced invasive species, and tackling these is one of the 10 key actions needed to prevent further bird extinctions that BirdLife has indentified. What this year's Red List changes tell us is that we can still turn things around for these species. There just has to be the will to act and the resources to back this up”, said Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife's Global Research and Indicators Coordinator.

“It extremely worrying that the number of Critically Endangered birds on the IUCN Red List continues to increase, despite the number of successful conservation initiatives around the world”, said Simon Stuart, Head of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. “The IUCN Red List is the global standard when it comes to measuring species loss so we urge governments to take the information contained in it seriously and do their level best to protect the world’s birds.”

Pictures:
Andy and Gill Swash; www.worldwildlifeimages.com
Lear's Macaw: a great example of a conservation success story

Alex Cortes
Gorgeted Puffleg is a recently described species of hummingbird from Colombia and has been classified as Critically Endangered

James C Lowen; www.pbase/james_lowen
Hooded Grebe has udergone a rapid recent decline and has been uplisted to Endangered

1. BirdLife International is a global alliance of conservation organisations working in more than 100 countries and territories that, together, are the leading authority on the status of birds, their habitats and the issues and problems affecting theme.

2. BirdLife is the Red List Authority for birds for the IUCN Red List. Categories include: Critically Endangered (facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild), Endangered (facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild), Vulnerable (facing a high risk of extinction in the wild), Near Threatened (close to qualifying for Vulnerable) and Least Concern (species not qualifying for the other categories, including widespread and abundant species). Species are assigned to categories using criteria with quantitative thresholds for population size, population trend, range size and other parameters. For more information visit: http://www.iucnredlist.org

3. 77 species have changed their IUCN Red List categories. Many of these are a result of an improved knowledge of populations or threats but of the 12 species that changed category owing to changes in their population size, rate of decline or range size, eight were uplisted to a higher level of threat.

4. To find out more about the 10 key actions needed to prevent further bird extinctions that BirdLife has indentified. Visit www.birdlife.org/cr_birds

5. For more species, regional and country information about the IUCN Red List visit the BirdLife Data Zone

6. To find out more about the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme visit www.birdlife.org/extinction

7. In total, nine species have been uplisted (or newly listed as) to Critically Endangered (Flores Hawk-eagle Spizaetus floris, Nightingale Reed-warbler Acrocephalus luscinius, Marquesan Kingfisher Todiramphus godeffroyi, Crow Honeyeater Gymnomyza aubryana, Medium Tree-finch Camarhynchus pauper, Palila Loxoides bailleui, Sidamo Lark Heteromirafra sidamoensis, plus Gorgeted Puffleg Eriocnemis isabellae, Antioquia Brush-finch Atlapetes blancae which are newly described and Critically Endangered) and six have been downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered (Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia castaneiventris, Minas Gerais Tyrannulet Phylloscartes roquetti, Kaempfer's Tody-tyrant Hemitriccus kaempferi, Mauritius Fody Foudia rubra, Chatham Petrel Pterodroma axillaris, Lear's Macaw Anodorhynchus leari) and one has been reclassified from Critically Endangered to Not Recognised (Bulo Burti Boubou Laniarius liberatus).

Other regional highlights
Americas
Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi has been uplisted from Near Threatened to Endangered. This species was only described in 1974 and is found at only a few lakes in south-west Argentina and Chile. It has undergone a rapid population decline and work is underway to ascertain the causes of this decrease. For more information click here

Palila Loxioides bailleui has been uplisted to Critically Endangered. This large finch is found in Hawaii and becomes the 13th Critically Endangered species for those islands, making them the world’s biggest extinction hotspot for birds. For more information click here

Pacific
Albert’s Lyrebird Menura alberti is confined to a relatively small area of rainforest between Blackwall Range, New South Wales, and Mistake Range, Queensland, Australia. It has been downlisted from Vulnerable to Near Threatened. For more information click here

Marquesan Kingfisher Todiramphus godeffroyi is endemic to the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia. It is at risk from introduced species such as Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus. As a result it has been uplisted to Critically Endangered. To find out more click here

Asia
Green Peafowl Pavo muticus, a close relative of the familiar domestic Peacock, has been uplisted from Vulnerable to Endangered. To find out more click here

Orange-necked Partridge Arborophila davidi has been downlisted from Endangered to Near Threatened. To find out more click here

Africa
Grey Crowned-crane Balearica regulorum has been uplisted from Least Concern to Vulnerable. To find out more click here

Sidamo Lark Heteromirafra sidamoensis has been uplisted from Endangered to Critically Endangered. to find out more click here

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