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1. Red-legged Partridge loses its pear tree
This may not be the Christmas information you wish to hear, particularly in 2020. But this 12 months, one other chicken species from the favored carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” has been reclassified to a better risk class on the IUCN Red List. The Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa, a vibrant, immediately recognisable gamebird, has been classed as Near Threatened on this 12 months’s replace. The different chicken named within the carol is the European Turtle-dove Streptopelia turtur, listed as Vulnerable since 2015. Both species are considered declining for related causes, together with agricultural intensification, habitat loss and unsustainable looking.
Although the Red-legged Partridge is often seen on farmland throughout southwest Europe, agricultural practices have gotten an increasing number of intense, homogenising the mosaic of various habitats it must nest and feed. These embody subject margins, hedgerows and orchards (together with pear bushes!). Over-hunting in all probability had a hand on this, too: in accordance with latest analysis, over 60% of its estimated inhabitants could also be shot annually – simply one other signal that we desperately have to make each farming and looking practices extra sustainable.
2. Status of mysterious volcanic island birds revealed
Vanatinai Island, also referred to as Tagula, is a distant volcanic island within the southwest Pacific, 360 km southeast of Papua New Guinea. With its dense wooded mountain vary jutting via smoky wisps of cloud, it resembles Jurassic Park, and for a few years its chicken species had been as mysterious because the dinosaurs they developed from. Due to the island’s distant, inaccessible panorama, little scientific analysis had been performed, and till now some species have been classed as “Data Deficient” on the Red List.
This 12 months, for the primary time, we now know sufficient to correctly assess the standing of three species: the Tagula Honeyeater Microptilotis vicina, Tagula Butcherbird Cracticus louisiadensis and Tagula White-eye Zosterops meeki. And it seems to be like we’ve executed so simply in time, as a result of two of the species – the Tagula Butcherbird and Tagula White-eye – are Near Threatened. Logging, agricultural growth and industrial gold prospecting are destroying their rainforest habitats. These important new discoveries got here largely from analysis lead by one scientist, William Goulding, whose ambition is to enhance data of all of the endemic chicken species of Tagula and the broader Louisiade Archipelago. His analysis tasks make use of and practice native individuals and embody public schooling and awareness-raising campaigns amongst island communities.
3. Junín Grebe swims towards tide of extinction
Another species got here off the Critically Endangered checklist this 12 months because of the exhausting work of scientists, authorities companies and native individuals. The Junín Grebe Podiceps taczanowskii is a singular, flightless diving chicken discovered solely Lake Junín within the Peruvian highlands. Sadly, within the 20th century, the house it had tailored to so completely grew to become a polluted jail, degraded by runoff from mining actions and sewage. Worse, its nesting areas would instantly and fatally dry out as water was extracted to produce hydroelectric crops. By 1993, simply 50 birds survived, and the destiny of all the species hung within the stability.
Thankfully, its plight didn’t go unnoticed. The lake was designated a Ramsar wetland of worldwide significance and an Important Bird & Biodiversity Area, and in 2002 the Peruvian authorities handed an emergency legislation to scrub massive areas of water and place higher restrictions on water extraction. As a part of BirdLife’s High Andean Wetland challenge, we helped Peruvian conservation group ECOAN to arrange long-term analysis and neighborhood schooling programmes. The species has turn into a flagship for High Andean Wetland conservation, and whereas the tide hasn’t utterly turned – it’s nonetheless Endangered – it’s positively on course.
4. Audouin’s Gull in sudden colony collapse
Following a inhabitants improve and vary growth in latest a long time, no person anticipated that Audouin’s Gull Larus audouinii, a well known Mediterranean seabird, would once more turn into Vulnerable to extinction. Alarm bells started ringing when researchers reported the collapse of its largest breeding colony, on the Ebro Delta in northeast Spain, after a number of years of very low breeding. Although some birds are relocating and forming new colonies, general numbers have been in steep decline since 2010 – which is what you would possibly anticipate when the positioning that hosted two-thirds of its world inhabitants turns into unliveable.
So, what occurred on the Ebro Delta? It appears to be a mix of things, all of them artifical. On land, the lack of appropriate habitat meant that, when predators began to naturally improve across the breeding website, the gulls had nowhere else to flee to. Indeed, most of the relocated colonies are in suboptimal habitats similar to transport ports. Problems additionally persist out at sea. Unusually for giant gulls, Audouin’s Gull is a specialist fish eater moderately than a scavenger, so is threatened by overfishing. The species can be a typical sufferer of unintended “bycatch” by fishing vessels. And though we don’t but know the complete image, this 12 months’s Red List replace has proven us the place to look.
5. Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher: paradise restored
Great information for the Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina, a stunningly iridescent songbird, whose title, Terpsiphone, means “pleasant voice” in Greek. As of this 12 months, the species is not thought-about Critically Endangered. Formerly confined to La Digue island within the Seychelles, its inhabitants has steadily elevated over the previous twenty years and has been efficiently reintroduced to a different a part of its former vary, Denis Island. The new colony is rising and thriving, and the flycatcher’s melodious, whistling name could be heard all through the island’s forests, which at the moment are predator-free because of an ongoing habitat restoration programme. A 3rd inhabitants was launched to Curieuse Island in 2018-2019, and has already began breeding efficiently.
This heartening success is the results of years of exhausting work by Nature Seychelles (BirdLife Partner) and its collaborators. Together, they established a nature reserve from scratch, along with an schooling centre and a large-scale public consciousness marketing campaign. This included a drive to arrange water baths at faculties and neighborhood centres, to assist all birds survive the dry season. The flycatcher remains to be classed as Vulnerable, and far of its habitat remains to be threatened by improvement tasks, however its house is not less than one step nearer to paradise.
6. Local love of Black-necked Crane aids its restoration
The Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis has moved one class nearer to security this 12 months, from Vulnerable to Near Threatened – a shining instance of the facility of protected areas and habitat restoration. This majestic waterbird makes its dwelling on the wetlands of the Tibetan plateau in western China, in addition to adjoining elements of northern India and Bhutan. Over the years, this habitat has been encroached on by intensive agriculture and urbanisation.
Fortunately, there’s already quite a lot of love for the chicken in the neighborhood. It is revered in Buddhist traditions, and culturally safeguarded throughout a lot of its vary. And whereas the birds are cautious of people, they generally turn into accustomed to native individuals who don’t disturb them. In reality, in accordance with findings from the BNHS (BirdLife in India), the cranes seem to have the ability to distinguish individuals in conventional costume, and are particularly cautious of others. This introduced the distinctive alternative to boost consciousness and interact native individuals within the chicken’s safety. Every 12 months in November, Bhutan holds a competition to boost consciousness of crane conservation, and the Black-necked Crane is the state chicken of Jammu and Kashmir, India. With a recovering inhabitants and nature reserves being revered, the long run seems to be brilliant.
7. Campbell Teal: dwelling eventually
This 12 months, the Campbell Teal Anas nesiotis turns into one other success story in New Zealand’s ongoing ambition to manage invasive species and restore its habitats’ pure equilibrium. Unusual in that it’s each flightless and nocturnal, this small, iridescent dabbling duck has been reclassified from Endangered to Vulnerable. This is especially spectacular because it was thought extinct for a few years after being worn out by Brown Rats on its native dwelling, Campbell Island, 700 kilometres south of mainland New Zealand. However, in 1975 it was rediscovered on Dent Island, a tiny close by islet that had remained rat-free. The race was now on to revive this small, fragile inhabitants to its former vary.
After a lot trial and error, conservationists efficiently bought this picky chicken to breed in captivity. An “insurance coverage inhabitants” was launched on Codfish Island, which was already pest-free and intensively managed for the Kakapo Strigops habroptila (Critically Endangered). Restoring the bigger, remoter and extra rugged Campbell Island was a much more formidable affair, with the New Zealand Department of Conservation utilizing helicopters to drop bait throughout the entire island. In 2004, after virtually a century away, the species was introduced again dwelling, and has been thriving ever since.
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