Risk of extinction increases for many bird species – BirdLife

THE MALTA INDEPENDENT ONLINE

The risk of extinction has increased for over 100 species of birds with Amazonian birds being on top of the list, according to the information released by BirdLife International yesterday.

The assessment was carried out for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2012 Red List update for birds.

The Yelkouan Shearwater (Garnija), a seabird that has been the focus of two EU LIFE Projects in Malta, is now classified as ‘Vulnerable’, a higher category of threat to its previous conservation status.

The Maltese archipelago is home to an estimated 10% of the world population of Yelkouan Shearwater. Until recently, the populations were in decline in Malta too but this trend was reversed thanks to the EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater Project that ended in 2010. However, in other parts of the Mediterranean where there are no or little conservation measures to protect them, the decline has continued making these species one step closer to extinction.

“The success story for Yelkouans in Malta is a clear indicator of the effectiveness of nature conservation on a national scale. To reverse the population decline on a regional or global level, similar efforts to that in Malta are needed,” said Laura Bambini, LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project Manager.

This year, BirdLife Malta together with the Ministry for Culture, Tourism and the Environment launched the EU LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project to identify areas out at sea that are important to Malta’s seabirds, including the Yelkouan Shearwater, to further protect these seabirds and the marine environment.

BirdLife Malta and the Environment Ministry are also continuing with the previously established conservation actions of the LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater project at the Rdum tal-Madonna Natura 2000 site which is home to the biggest colony of Yelkouan Shearwaters in the Maltese islands.

“One in eight of the world’s bird species is deemed globally threatened and the fortunes of 197 critically endangered species are now so perilous that they are at risk of imminent extinction. Since wild birds are indicators of the health of our environment, taking measures to protect them on land and at sea will not only benefit the birds but also other wildlife and communities who depend on natural resources,” Ms Bambini concluded.

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