On a wing & a prayer

Eight more Indian birds enter an endangered list that already stands at 173

On a wing & a prayer
Birds, one of the best indicators of the environment, have slipped deeper into the danger zone in India, thanks to relentless habitat destruction. Studies conducted by BNHS-India, BirdLife International (UK) and other partner organisations show eight more birds have entered the threatened list, which already stands at 173.

The latest 2014 red list of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has also identified a small and colourful bird, Bugun liocichla, from the North East as critically endangered now. It was listed in previous years as only vulnerable.

The eight species in danger, according to BNHS, are woolly-necked stork, Andaman teal, Andaman green pigeon, ashy-headed green pigeon, red-headed falcon, Himalayan griffon, bearded vulture and Yunnan nuthatch.

In an earlier revision of the IUCN list that took place in November 2013, five species had been added to the threatened list, which includes Great Stone Plover, Alexandrine parakeet, grey-headed parakeet, blossom-headed parakeet and red-breasted parakeet.

Bugun liocichla, first described by modern science in the 1990s, has till now been reported from a few areas such as Eaglenest Sanctuary and Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh. It is likely existing in other areas of the state and some neighbouring areas of Bhutan and China.

Woolly-necked stork, although found in most parts of India, is facing rapid population decline. Andaman teal is found only on Great Coco Island and Andaman Islands with less than 1,000 birds recorded till now. Andaman green pigeon is also endemic to the Andaman and Nicobar islands of India and a couple of thousand birds may exist.

Ashy-headed green pigeon is confined to the north-eastern states of India. Red-headed falcon is still found in declining numbers in most parts of India (except the Himalayan ranges) and several neighbouring countries. But it has disappeared from many areas, and in Pakistan, it has declined partly due to the falconry trade.

Found only in the Himalayan ranges, Himalayan griffon is likely to decline further due to the impact of pain killer diclofenac used in livestock, as in the case of several other vulture species.

Bearded vulture or lammergeyer is also found in the Himalayan ranges in India and similar habitats in other parts of Asia, Africa and Europe. It has been facing moderately rapid population decline. Yunnan Nuthatch found in Yunnan province of China, has been recorded only in Arunachal Pradesh in India.

Habitat loss due to infrastructure development, forest fires, poaching and use of chemicals are jeopardising the existence of these and other threatened species.

Globally 13 per cent of all bird species are on the threatened list. Among the 350 species, newly recognised and assessed the world over by BirdLife International and IUCN, over 25 per cent have been listed as threatened. As many as 10,425 birds are in the red list, 140 of them are extinct.

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