What’s in the news?
- A new analysis of data from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and BirdLife International has highlighted the issue of decline of Birds of Prey despite a few high-profile conservation success stories.
- Birds of prey, also known as raptors, include species of bird that primarily hunts and kills other animals, especially vertebrates, for food.
- Around 30% of 557 raptor species worldwide are considered near threatened, vulnerable or endangered or critically endangered.
- Eg: Eighteen species are critically endangered, including the Philippine eagle, the hooded vulture and the Annobon scops owl.
- Other species are in danger of becoming locally extinct in specific regions, meaning they may no longer play critical roles as top predators in their ecosystems.
- Eg: The golden eagle is the national bird of Mexico, but we have very few golden eagles left in Mexico.
- Of threatened birds of prey that are active mostly during the day including hawks, eagles and vultures, 54% are falling in population and the same is true for 47% of threatened nocturnal raptors, such as owls.
- Globally, the biggest threats to these birds are habitat loss, climate change and toxic substances.
- Eg: The Andean condor is declining due to exposure to pesticides, lead and other toxic substances.
- Widespread use of an anti-inflammatory drug in livestock led to the rapid decline of vultures in South Asia, shrinking the population of some species by 95% in recent decades.
- In East Asia, many raptor species are long-distance migrants and they breed in northern China, Mongolia or Russia and travel down the eastern coast of China to spend summers in Southeast Asia or India and the sites that are bottlenecks for migration, with thousands of birds passing through, are important to protect.
- Of 4,200 sites identified by conservation groups as critical for raptor species globally, most “are unprotected or only partly covered by protected areas”.
- A 2018 study in the journal Biological Conservation found that 52% of all raptor species worldwide are decreasing in population.
- In particular, raptor species that require forest are more likely to be threatened and declining and the greatest concentrations of threatened species are found in South and South-East Asia.