More Indian birds enter list of threatened species

Destruction of grasslands, wetlands and forests takes its toll on birds

Updated - October 31, 2015 09:27 am IST

Published - October 31, 2015 03:26 am IST - MUMBAI:

A long-billed vulture at its natural habitat. Photo: Special Arrangement

A long-billed vulture at its natural habitat. Photo: Special Arrangement

The Red List of birds released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for 2015 shows that a total of 180 bird species in India are now threatened, as against 173 last year. Only one species has moved out of the Red List.

The latest additions to the list, which are based on studies conducted by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS)-India, BirdLife International (UK-based) and other partner organisations, reveal that bird habitats like grasslands and wetlands are under threat. Of the new additions, five have been uplisted from the Least Concerned to the Near Threatened category, a sign of increased threat. These include Northern Lapwing (a grassland bird) and four wetland birds, namely Red Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Bar-Tailed Godwit.

Two other wetland birds, Horned Grebe and Common Pochard have been uplisted from Least Concerned to Vulnerable. Steppe Eagle (a raptor from grasslands), which is a regular winter visitor to the Indian subcontinent, has been uplisted from Least Concerned to Endangered.

More effort needed

“The list of threatened species keeps on increasing with every assessment. That itself symbolises that our efforts for conservation of species are not adequate. We need to logically rethink the developmental agenda, especially for the habitats and areas where these species exist,” said Dr. Deepak Apte, Director, BNHS. He added that some of the neglected habitats should be a part of protected areas or marked as ecologically sensitive sites.

Destruction of grasslands, wetlands, forests and other habitats is considered the most common reason for this development.

BNHS study reveals that apart from habitat loss, the other reason for decline of birds like Steppe Eagle, which mostly scavenges on animal carcasses, is the use of veterinary drug diclofenac used to treat livestock. This drug causes renal failure in these birds. Three vulture species, namely White-backed, Slender-billed and Long-billed have also been severely affected by diclofenac.

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