According to the newest information, four species of birds have been added to the “red list” of threatened species in the UK. The newest species facing extinction include the Atlantic puffin, European turtle dove, Slavonian grebe, and pochard, doubling the number of endangered birds in the threatened category. Vulnerability to pollution, scarcity of food, and hunting have all contribute to their decline.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) keeps records of which species are on the “red list” and which are considered “near endangered” – another list to which 14 more species have recently been added. Martin Harper of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) says, “The erosion of the UK’s wildlife is staggering and this is reinforced when you talk about puffin and turtle dove now facing the same level of extinction threat as African elephant and lion, and being more endangered than the humpback whale.”
The Atlantic puffins, well known for their brightly-colored beaks, still have strong numbers in the millions, yet fewer of their young are surviving long enough to reproduce. Their source of food, primarily the sand eel, is dwindling and they are subject to pollution and oil spills. These birds have been placed in the most dire category: vulnerable to extinction. The European turtle doves join them as they have had a 30% decline in numbers over the past 16 years. Pochard populations have fallen victim to hunting and habitat destruction and Slavonian grebes have had a reduction in successful breeding pairs.
Other birds already considered endangered in the UK include oystercatchers, lapwings, the curlew sandpiper and bar-tailed godwit. Part of humans’ contributions to this decline is the undeniable effect of hunting birds. Recently, the country of Malta rejected a ban on hunting birds, which includes the European turtle doves, who migrate over the area. If more places don’t follow that example, more birds will be heading the way of the dodo.
Via BBC News