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Post at: Jul 19 2022

The State of the World’s Birds

Why in News ?

  • The State of the World’s Birds, an annual update from BirdLife International, a non-profit global conservation group,highlighted the threat to almost 48% recognised extant species of birds.

Key findings of report 

  • The State of the World’s Birds says 13.5% of 10,994 recognised extant species are currently threatened with extinction.
  • Maleo Macrocephalon maleo and Vietnamese Crested Argus Rheinardia ocellata are added to Critically Endangered (CR).
  • The proportion of highly threatened species was found more in tropical latitudes comprising 86.4 percent. 
    • While the number was 31.7 percent in case of temperate latitudes.
  • Apart from tropical forests, the threat of natural grasslands has been particularly worrying for North America, Europe, and India.

India's situation 

  • The trend toward declining bird diversity is just as alarming in India, where recent annual trends have been calculated for 146 species.
    • Of these, nearly 80% are declining in numbers, and almost 50% plummeting strongly.
    • Just over 6% of the species studied show stable populations and 14% show increasing population trends.
  • Among the most threatened species were endemic species, birds of prey, and those living in forests and grasslands.

Significance of birds

  • Functional role of birds within ecosystems as pollinators, seed-dispersers, ecosystem engineers, scavengers and predators.
  • They not only contribute to biodiversity but also support anthropogenic activities like sustainable agriculture through polinations, preying on rodents and pests.
  • They help in pest control which helps humans in agriculture and keeps the biodiversity balanced.
  • They are an important source of food as well (meat, eggs).
  • They have cultural and aesthetic value which contributes to the beauty of nature. Birdwatching is a global pastime practiced by millions of people. They are taken as pets too.

Reasons for the Decline:

  • The degradation and loss of natural habitats as well as direct overexploitation of many species are the key threats to avian biodiversity.
  • The use of 37% of the surviving bird species as common or exotic pets and 14% as food are examples of direct overexploitation.
  • Threats affecting the greatest number of world’s threatened bird species are (in descending order): 
  1. Agriculture, 
  2. logging,
  3.  hunting and trapping, 
  4. invasive alien species,
  5. residential and commercial development, 
  6. resuppression.
  • The last century has seen many species getting extinct and many more getting into the list of ‘critically endangered’, this has been due to pronounced change in the climatic conditions because of anthropogenic activities.


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