Tag Archives: threatened

Framgång i rödspovsprojekt som ska rädda beståndet i Storbritannien (Project saving Black-tailed Godwit in Great Britain)


(Erik Hansson 21 maj 2017; Foto Daniel Pettersson)

I Storbritannien har det för första gången nyligen kläckts 26 rödspovsägg i fångenskap. Målet är att hjälpa arten på traven för att den inte ska utrotas.

Den här delen av ”Projekt rödspov” innebär att ägg samlas in från bon i det vilda för att sedan under kontrollerade former kläckas i fångenskap där även ungarna föds upp och tränas till ett liv i frihet innan de släpps ut. På detta sätt överlever betydligt fler av ungarna än om äggen hade lämnats i bona. Dessutom leder ”äggstölden” till att rödspovarna oftast lägger en till kull i det vilda.

För första gången har nu 26 ungar kläckts i projektet och målet är att fler av dem ska klara sig i Storbritanniens två viktigaste häckningsplatser. Med tanke på att det finns färre än 60 par rödspovar kvar i Storbritannien och att arten listas som ”nära hotad” i världen anses det vara en viktig insats för att rödspovarna ska räddas.

– Artens framtid i Storbritannien och globalt är för närvarande väldigt osäker. Rödspoven häckar på marken så de är väldigt känsliga för översvämning och rovdjur, säger Hannah Ward på Storbritanniens fågelförening RSPB.

”Projekt rödspov” ska pågå i minst fem år och finansieras av EU LIFE Nature-programmet.

– Att ”snabbstarta” unga fåglar är ett stort ingrepp och det har redan visat sig vara en enorm hjälp för att rädda en annan art från att utrotas – skedsnäppan. Det ökar antalet unga fåglar som tar till vingarna och det ger oss också möjlighet att kunna märka fåglarna så att vi kan följa dem genom livet och samla in fakta om deras beteende, säger Rebecca Lee, chef för projektet hos Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT).

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New Zealand’s mainland yellow-eyed penguins face extinction unless urgent action taken

University of Otago 16 May 2017; Photo Thomas Mattern)

Iconic Yellow-eyed penguins could disappear from New Zealand’s Otago Peninsula by 2060, latest research warns. Researchers call for coordinated conservation action.

In a newly published study in the international journal PeerJ, scientists have modelled factors driving mainland Yellow-eyed penguin population decline and are calling for action to reduce regional threats.

According to the researchers’ prediction models, breeding success of the penguins will continue to decline to extinction by 2060 largely due to rising ocean temperatures. But these predictions also point to where our conservation efforts could be most effective in building penguins’ resilience against climate change.

The Yellow-eyed penguin, classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is a key attraction for New Zealand tourism. Yet, the chances of seeing the penguins in the wild are quietly slipping away, the new research suggests.

Lead study author Dr Thomas Mattern of the University of Otago says his team’s predictions are conservative estimates and do not include additional adult die-off events such as the one seen in 2013 in which more than 60 penguins died.

“Any further losses of Yellow-eyed penguins will bring forward the date of their local extinction,” Dr Mattern says.

If the recent poor breeding years — 2013 onwards — are included in the simulation of the future penguin population, things get progressively worse.

“When including adult survival rates from 2015 into the models the mean projection predicts Yellow-eyed penguins to be locally extinct in the next 25 years,” adds Dr Stefan Meyer, another of the co-authors.

The researchers note that Yellow-eyed penguins are iconic within New Zealand. Dr Mattern says these birds greet visitors to the country on billboards in all major airports, are featured on the NZ $5 note, and are widely used for branding and advertising.

“Yet despite being celebrated in this way, the species has been slowly slipping towards local extinction,” he says.

“It is sobering to see the previously busy penguin-breeding areas now overgrown and silent, with only the odd lonely pair hanging on,” says Dr Ursula Ellenberg, who has researched Yellow-eyed penguins for the past 14 years.

Increasing sea surface temperatures in part explain the negative trend in penguin numbers.

“The problem is that we lack data to examine the extent of human impacts, ranging from fisheries interactions, introduced predators to human disturbance, all of which contribute to the penguins’ demise,” says Dr Mattern.

“However, considering that climate change explains only around a third of the variation in penguin numbers, clearly those other factors play a significant role. Unlike climate change, these factors could be managed on a regional scale,” he says.

Professor Phil Seddon, Director of Wildlife Management at the University of Otago, says besides shining an alarming light on the state of the Yellow-eyed penguin on the New Zealand mainland, the study also underlines the importance of long-term data sets.

“In the current era of fast science, long-term projects have become a rarity. Without more than 35 years’ worth of penguin monitoring data we would probably be still at a loss as to what is happening to a national icon, the Yellow-eyed penguin,” Professor Seddon says.

Despite this urgency, Yellow-eyed penguins continue to drown as unintentional bycatch in nets set in penguin foraging areas, suffer from degradation of their marine habitat because of human activities, and die from unidentified toxins.

The authors conclude that “now we all know that Yellow-eyed penguins are quietly slipping away we need to make a choice. Without immediate, bold and effective conservation measures we will lose these penguins from our coasts within our lifetime.”

Ravaged by deforestation – but a new refuge brings hope for the Cherry-throated Tanager


(Alice Reisfeld 17 May 2017; Photo: Ciro Albino)

Over 85% of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest has been felled over the last few hundred years – but life continues to cling to the fragments that remain. A newly-created reserve will ensure that one of these fragments, along with the six globally-threatened birds it harbours, will endure for the foreseeable future

Just five hundred years ago, the Atlantic Forest formed a thick green blanket across the east coast of Brazil. Then settlers arrived from Europe, sparking one of the most terrifying rates of deforestation the world has ever seen.

Today, plantations and quarries stand where 88% of the Atlantic Forest once proudly stood. All that remains of this vital ecosystem today are scattered patches of degraded, fragmented forest.

The decimation of the Atlantic Forest is an ongoing tragedy for biodiversity. Despite only being a fraction of its former glory, the Atlantic Forest is still home to a huge number of plants and animals – enough, in fact, to rival the more famous Amazon. Even in its current state, new species are being discovered all the time in the fragments that remain – or in the case of the Critically Endangered (CR) Cherry-throated Tanager Nemosia rourei, rediscovered.

This colourful tanager was known only from a single shot specimen in 1870 for many decades, before its dramatic rediscovery in the 1990s. However, the species remains staggeringly rare, with an estimated global population of less than 200 adult birds. It may be that there are further populations out there skulking in as-yet unexplored fragments, but for now all we can do is protect the habitats that host the populations we do know about.

And this week, there was a major advancement on this front – the establishment of a 1,688 hectare refuge protecting one of the last strongholds of this beleaguered species. The newly-created Águia Branca Private Reserve now represents the second largest private protected area in the Brazillian state of Espírito Santo.

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Stop killing the river: Ask Argentina to save Hooded Grebes


(Irene Lorenzo 12 May 2017; Photo Juan María Raggio)

A new documentary, Killing the River, reveals how the planned construction of two hydroelectric dams is threatening the ecosystem of Argentina’s last glacial river.

Welcome to the remote lakes of the Patagonian wilderness, adjacent to the Santa Cruz River in Argentina. For hundreds of years, the area was a safe haven for the threatened Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi, especially during their breeding season.

Fertile sediment, carried downstream from the river to the estuary, ensures food availability not only for this iconic species but also for other charismatic birds such as the Magellanic Penguin Spheniscus magellanicus, Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis, and Magellanic Plover Pluvianellus socialis; as well as many others like the endangered subspecies of Red Knot Calidris canutus rufa.

Once isolated from human threats, the fate of this unspoiled habitat changed in a matter of months as the government recently proposed the construction of two dams in this pristine river.

If the construction were to continue, the two dams would block natural processes, which would have an impact on river flow and aquatic ecosystems in the area. Food availability downstream would be affected as well, resulting in the loss of wintering habitats for the aforementioned species.

An especially worrying situation for the Hooded Grebe, whose numbers are around 500 breeding pairs and already under pressure from the spread of invasive species.

Today, the President of Argentina Mauricio Macri lands in Chinese grounds to discuss the construction of these damaging dams, which are linked to foreign investment. A coalition of NGOs is now seeking support to save the country’s last glacial river with the release of the documentary Killing the River (“Matar al río” in Spanish).

The president is expected to deliver today the Environmental Impact Study to his Chinese counterpart, which would enable the construction of the so-called Kirchner and Cepernic hydroelectric dams.

For this reason, the NGO coalition calls for society to alert President Macri before he starts his negotiations with China to stop the controversial project that would affect the habitat of the Hooded Grebe.

Considering that 15 days ago the country launched their Zero Extinction programme, it is incoherent with the government’s environmental plans to continue with the construction. Their list of protected species includes the Hooded Grebe, while they insist on the construction of two dams that would guarantee their extinction.

“The state created a few years ago a National Park to save the Hooded Grebe from extinction. Today that same state can sign the death certificate of the species”, says Hernán Casañas, CEO of Aves Argentinas (BirdLife Partner).

The two major works are currently paralyzed by order of the Supreme Court of Justice for not complying with obligations under the Law of Environmental Impact of Hydraulic Works. If President Macri goes forward with the proposal, he would be taking for granted the fulfillment of a process that is not yet concluded.

In order to progress with the dams, two fundamental instances are missing: a public hearing and the Environmental Impact Assessment. According to the ruling of the Supreme Court “the magnitude of the project requires a scientifically-proven, socially participatory, balanced and profound reflection”.

“Does it makes sense to move forward with two dams that would extinguish the Hooded Grebe, negatively impact other species, destroy an environment and not even solve the energy problem, only because the contract was signed by the previous management? It’s time to slow down and rethink the situation”, the NGO coalition says.

In legal terms, we’re in still in time to fight the construction but news about the construction having reached the point of no return keep circulating. The NGO coalition wants to remind the public through the documentary that there’s still time to stop the construction. If you want to help, head to Twitter and copy-paste the following message:

“President @mauriciomacri please stop the destruction of Santa Cruz River https://youtu.be/m-s9BUUYgFw #RioSantaCruzSinRepresas”.


Extinction risk for many species vastly underestimated, study suggests

(Columbia University; Photo: Adesh Shivkar; 25 April 2017)

A new study indicates that the number of plant and animal species at risk of extinction may be considerably higher than previously thought. A team of researchers, however, believe they’ve come up with a formula that will help paint a more accurate picture.

The study appears in the journal Biological Conservation.

The maps describing species’ geographic ranges, which are used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to determine threat status, appear to systematically overestimate the size of the habitat in which species can thrive, said Don Melnick, senior investigator on the study and the Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Conservation Biology in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology (E3B) at Columbia University.

“Concerned about this issue, we aimed to determine how far off those maps were. In doing so, we found there is an enormous amount of freely available data on many species around the world that can be employed to get a better picture of exactly how many species are truly under extreme threat. This picture, grim as it may be, is necessary if we are going to accurately plan the steps needed to stem those threats, locally and globally.”

Currently, IUCN makes use of species sightings reported by experts to draw boundaries reflecting the geographic range of a given species. From these maps, the IUCN develops its Red List, which assigns a threat status to wild species: Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered. Though the accuracy of threat risk assigned to a species relies heavily on these maps, Melnick and his colleagues believe they almost always overestimate the actual distribution of a species by incorporating areas of unsuitable habitat. This overestimation of range size, in turn, leads to a significant overestimation of population size and therefore an underestimation of extinction risk.

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Every penguin, ranked: which species are we most at risk of losing?


(Author: Alex Dale; Photo: Christopher Michel; 24 April 2017)

10 of the world’s 18 species of penguin are threatened with extinction. Discover where they live, and the threats they face, in this illustrated list of the world’s species

Beautiful. Inspiring. Under threat.

The first third of our Protect A Penguin campaign tagline is self-explanatory. Beautiful. Even if you’ve got a heart as hard as a cement mixer, the sight of an Emperor Penguin chick huddling against the cold, or a flash of the Little Penguin’s vibrant blue feathers, is guaranteed to make you melt into a pile of goo.

And as for Inspiring? Well, is there a creature on this planet that better represents survival against all odds than the penguin? Over the course of their existence, these remarkable birds have evolved numerous incredible adaptions that allow them to thrive in some of the world’s most challenging marine environments. They can drink seawater, survive in temperatures as low -60°C (-76°F), and they are amazingly agile swimmers. Many can swim faster than we can run.

But they are also Under threat. While the penguins are heavily adapted for their environments, it has taken them millions of years to evolve these features, and human impact is hitting the penguins’ environments too hard and too fast for them to cope. This is why over half of the world’s penguins are now in real danger of going extinct.

But which ones are we most in danger of losing?

That’s where BirdLife comes in. As the official assessors of the status of the world’s birds for the IUCN Red List, our science team is tasked with regularly reviewing all available data for every species, and allocating it a threat level accordingly, depending on criteria such as range, numbers and rate of decline. The seven threat levels are (in increasing order of seriousness): LEAST CONCERN, NEAR THREATENED, VULNERABLE, ENDANGERED, CRITICALLY ENDANGERED, EXTINCT IN THE WILD AND EXTINCT.

To find out more about the world’s 18 penguins, where they live and which ones are in most peril, read on. And don’t forget: you can help by donating to our global Protect A Penguin campaign

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Latest figures reveal current state of UK’s birds

Profile of golden eagle(RSPB; Photo: Bill Paton; 11 April 2017)

More than one quarter of UK birds are in need of urgent conservation effort with curlew, puffin and nightingale joining the growing list of threatened species – but there is good news for some, a new report has highlighted.
The state of the UK’s birds 2016 (SUKB) report – the one-stop shop for all the latest results from bird surveys and monitoring studies – highlights how more than a quarter of the UK’s regularly-occurring bird species are now what conservationists refer to as ‘Red-listed’4.
Many of these are due to severe recent declines in numbers and/or range in the UK.  And eight2 are considered at risk of global extinction.
Downward trends for upland species continue, with five added to the Red List; giving cause for concern. Europe’s largest and most distinctive wader – the curlew – has been added to the Red List and is joined by dotterel, whinchat, grey wagtail and merlin. This highlights the fact many of the UK’s upland species are in increasing trouble with the total number of upland birds red-listed now 12.
Hosting up to a quarter of the global breeding population of curlew, the UK could be considered one of the most important countries in the world for breeding curlews. But in recent decades, numbers have almost halved due to habitat loss. With a much smaller population, predators are now having an effect on what was a resilient population.
The curlew is considered ‘near threatened’ globally and with urgent action required to halt their decline, an International Single Species Action Plan has been created.