BirdsEndangered Species

Vanishing Birds

The Alaotra Grebe of Madagascar is the latest addition to a growing list of extinct bird species.  According to The Guardian, the Wetland bird was driven to extinction primarily due to the introduction of non-native carnivorous fish into their waters.  Fishermen also played a role in the extinction, as nylon gill-nets have drowned countless Grebes.  The Guardian suggests that there is a downward trend in wildlife protection, as the total number of extinct bird species since the year 1600 has now reached 132, with 1,240 bird species currently facing the threat of extinction.  Introduced species, pollution, and drainage of coastal wetlands are among the leading causes.

WetlandsBirdLife International is behind the Alaotra Grebe announcement in the 2010 IUCN Red List update for birds.  They suggest that the extinction of the Grebe “is another example of how human actions can have unforeseen consequences for vanishing birds.”  Fragile wetlands are in a dangerous position as human development has caused the migration of invasive plant/animal species away from polluted habitats and dangerous environments.

One wetland bird species that’s suffering is Cuba’s Zapata Rail, which is being threatened by introduced mongooses and exotic fish.  The only nest of this bird that has ever been found was discovered by a Caribbean ornithologist named James Bond, who reputedly was the source for Ian Fleming’s famous spy’s name.

The good news is that human practices can be made positive, and a strong commitment to conservation can save endangered species.  The proof is in the Red List update, which shows that species such as the yellow-eared parrot have been helped through programs that educate local communities on proper conservation practices.

Photo Courtesy of National Zoo
Photo Courtesy of National Zoo

Moreover, the birth of two rare White-Naped Cranes last month at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute marked a ray of hope for endangered birds.  Once again, the National Zoo shows that it is committed to saving endangered species through science and conservation efforts such as captive breeding which increases the genetic viability of bird populations that would otherwise have been lost forever.  Captive breeding can be a valuable key to saving endangered species.

It is imperative that people reform their actions and take responsibility through conservation efforts, for constructive human actions can make for positive outcomes.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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