Development is taking its toll on birds, and it is getting worse every year. Fifteen bird species that are found in India have been declared ‘Critically Endangered’ in the just released IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
If that’s not all, three other bird species now face greater danger than before. These have been uplisted to Near Threatened (NT) and Vulnerable (VU) categories. Earlier, these were better off and classified under the Least Concern (LC) category by IUCN.
Four of these birds can be found in various parts of Karnataka: great Indian bustard, Indian vulture, red-headed vulture and white-backed vulture.
Factors contributing the most to the decline in numbers of several bird species reveal that just like disappearing wetlands, most other habitats such as grasslands and forests are also facing severe threats due to developmental pressures.
Species labelled Critically Endangered category in India include migratory wetland species: Baer’s pochard, Siberian crane and spoon-billed sandpiper; non-migratory wetland species: white-bellied heron; grassland species: Bengal florican, great Indian bustard, Jerdon’s courser and sociable lapwing; forest species: forest owlet and scavengers: Indian vulture, red-headed vulture, white-backed vulture and slender-billed vulture. The Himalayan quail and pink-headed duck are considered Extinct.
Those that now face greater danger than before are river lapwing and river tern, both uplisted from Least Concern to Near Threatened and long-tailed duck uplisted from Least Concern to Vulnerable. Destruction of wetlands and riverine habitats are said to be the cause in decline of these species, according to the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). The BNHS is the Indian partner of Birdlife International, which ascertains the status of birds for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Drastic loss of grassland habitat has severely threatened species such as the great Indian Bustard, Bengal florican and Jerdon’s courser. Destruction of deciduous forests in central India has lead to the decline in forest owlet numbers. Destruction of forests in the Western Ghats and Himalayas too continue to endanger species. Other reasons include incidence of chemical components as in the case of diclofenac’s effect of vulture species.