Number of Critically Endangered birds hits new high as Red List 2013 for Birds released

Red listThe number of bird species listed as Critically Endangered has reached an all-time high according to this year’s Red List for birds released by BirdLife International (Nature Seychelles is the BirdLife Partner in Seychelles).

“Almost 200 species of bird are now in real danger of being lost forever,” said Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife’s Director of Science, Policy and Information. “They are being hit on multiple fronts. Habitat loss, agricultural changes, invasive species and climate change are the principle threats. Without these problems being addressed the list will continue to grow.”

Critically Endangered is the highest risk category of the IUCN Red List of threatened species, comprising those that are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

The White-winged Flufftail, a secretive and unobtrusive sub-Saharan bird, is the latest species to join the growing list of those on the very edge of extinction. Destruction and degradation of its high altitude wet grassland habitat have driven it to this precarious state. Urgent action is now needed in both Ethiopia and South Africa to save it from extinction.

However, there is also good news and real signs that conservation action works.

Two species of albatross - one of the most threatened of the planet’s bird families - are now considered to be at a lower risk of extinction after increases in their populations. Black-browed and Black-footed Albatrosses have both been downlisted to lower Red List categories

On the Indian Ocean island of Rodrigues, two species - Rodrigues Fody  and Rodrigues Warbler   - have also been downlisted as a result of conservation action.

In Seychelles, only the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher remains as Critically Endangered.

"Seychelles is one of the few countries that has proven that we can save birds in our own lifetime," says Dr. Nirmal Shah Nature Seychelles Chief Executive.

"We once had more Critically  Endangered endemic birds than any other country in Africa except Madagascar," he adds. "But with unrelenting conservation action, we have changed that status."

Through conservation efforts by BirdLife and later Nature Seychelles, for example, the Warbler, on the brink of extinction in the 1960s, has been downlisted to Vulnerable. Nature Seychelles intends to push it down  further to  Near Threatened by 2014, the first time this would have been  achieved through conservation action for a Critically Endangered bird.

In the last 10 years other Seychelles birds  have been saved including the Seychelles Magpie Robin, whose numbers have now risen to 260 on 5 islands from the only 25 surviving on Fregate Island.

“This year’s Red List is a mix of good and bad news, but once again it shows that conservation groups around the globe are succeeding in saving species and preventing extinction – and these committed efforts now need to be greatly scaled up,” concluded Dr Bennun.

BirdLife is the Red List Authority for birds for the IUCN Red List. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plant and animal species.

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