Climate Change Threatens Hundreds of North American Bird Species: “It’s a Bird Emergency”

Climate Change Threatens Hundreds of North American Bird Species: “It’s a Bird Emergency”

SOURCE: Yale e360 DATE: October 10, 2019 SNIP: Two-thirds of bird species in North America are at risk of extinction if global temperatures continue to rise, according to a new report from scientists at the Audubon Society. A total of 389 species, out of 604 studied, could experience declines in their populations as a result of warmer temperatures, higher seas, loss of habitat, and extreme weather, all driven by climate change. Among those birds most at-risk are the greater sage grouse, Baltimore oriole, common loon, and the wood thrush. The new study comes less than a month after research found the United States and Canada have lost 3 billion birds since 1970, equal to losing one out of every four birds. “Birds are important indicator species, because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people too,” Brooke Bateman, the senior climate scientist for the National Audubon Society, said in a statement. Scientists analyzed 140 million bird records from more than 70 sources in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, including field sightings from citizen science projects, to produce the report. They found that 64 percent of North American bird species are at risk of extinction if global temperatures increase 3 degrees Celsius. That dropped to 54 percent with 2 degrees C of warming, and 40 percent, or 241 species, if nations could hold global warming to 1.5 degrees C — the Paris Agreement target. “Keeping global temperatures down will help up to 76 percent of [species],” said David Yarnold, CEO and president of Audubon. “There’s hope in this report, but first, it’ll break...
Seven new species appear for first time on list of world’s 25 most endangered primates

Seven new species appear for first time on list of world’s 25 most endangered primates

SOURCE: The London Economic DATE: October 7, 2019 SNIP: SEVEN new species have appeared for the first time on the world’s 25 most endangered primates list – including western Chimpanzees and the super-rare Skywalker hoolock gibbon. The bleak report, named ‘Primates In Peril: The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates 2018-2020’, warns that many of the world’s primates are on the brink of extinction and need urgent help. A shocking seven species have never before appeared on the list – but their rapidly dwindling numbers are as low as just a few hundred individuals in the wild. The small, black Skywalker hoolock gibbon – named after popular sci-fi film series Star Wars – numbers just 150 in the wild. And one of the most imperiled primates on the list is the Tapanuli orangutan from Sumatra, Indonesia – the first great ape identified since the bonobo from the D.R.C. in 1929. The endangered orangutan was only identified in 2017, but is one of the world’s most threatened primates, numbering less than 800 in the wild. The new research has been compiled by conservationists from Bristol Zoological Society. The Primate Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Primatological Society (IPS), and Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) also partnered with the zoo for the report. Dr Russell Mittermeier, chief conservation officer of GWC, said: “If you took all the remaining individuals of the 25 Most Endangered Primates list, you wouldn’t fill the seating of a large football stadium.” Across the globe, 69 per cent of the total 704 primate species and subspecies are considered threatened, the report shows....
Birdwatchers concerned by delayed arrival of migratory short-tailed shearwaters in Victoria

Birdwatchers concerned by delayed arrival of migratory short-tailed shearwaters in Victoria

SOURCE: ABC News (Australia) DATE: October 4, 2019 SNIP: Birdwatchers fear for the fate of thousands of short-tailed shearwaters, also known as mutton birds, which failed to arrive in south-west Victoria at the usual time after their annual migration from the northern hemisphere. Each year, hundreds of thousands of short-tailed shearwaters descend on Victoria’s coastline to breed following a mammoth journey which takes two months to complete. The birds spend the northern summer around Alaska, before travelling 15,000 kilometres to Australia where they arrive with precision. For the past 30 years, the south-west Victorian population has arrived at Griffiths Island, near Port Fairy, a day either side of September 22. But this year, the date came and went without the usual flurry of activity. Peter Barrand, president of Birdlife Warrnambool, said he had basically set his watch by the shearwaters’ arrival for the past three decades. “We couldn’t find any at first, but further investigation found there were small numbers coming in. “For a colony that’s something like 40,000 strong — a handful of birds is a significant decline. A spokesperson for Victoria’s Environment Department said short-tailed shearwaters typically returned to colonies at Port Fairy and Port Campbell in late September to early October, but so far, only small numbers of birds had been sighted at either location. It said the possible causes were unknown, but there were several factors that could have delayed the birds’ arrival, such as climate variability and food availability in the northern hemisphere. “Something’s obviously gone drastically wrong in the arctic — whatever the shearwaters have been feeding on has failed to appear,” Mr...
Turkey’s Dam-Building Spree Continues, At Steep Ecological Cost

Turkey’s Dam-Building Spree Continues, At Steep Ecological Cost

SOURCE: Yale e360 DATE: October 3, 2019 SNIP: From the vine-draped veranda of Yolgecen Hani, a café in the Turkish town of Hasankeyf, one can still catch the scent of the free-flowing Tigris River below, which courses through the country’s rugged southeast and then the length of Iraq before emptying into the Persian Gulf. The sun-baked mountains, verdant riverbanks, and jagged gorges, which lay at the heart of ancient Mesopotamia, today are home to unique ecosystems rich in endemic flora and fauna. Yet, in a matter of months, a massive hydroelectric plant and impoundment dam located about 35 miles downstream will obliterate much of this splendor. The waters that will soon back up behind the Ilisu Dam will transform nearly 90 miles of the Tigris and another 150 miles of its tributaries into a vast reservoir that will submerge nearly 200 villages and displace an estimated 80,000 people. The drowned settlements will include the pearl of Hasankeyf, whose cultural heritage — ancient churches, caves, and tombs — attests to the presence of some of the first large human communities 10,000 years ago. The flooding, as well as the surge of water releases downstream, also threatens endangered species such as the Eurasian otter, the marbled duck, and the red-wattled Lapwing, say experts. The dam will further imperil many of the Tigris’ native fish species, already battered by overfishing, industrial pollution, and sewage discharges. And experts say the impacts of the Ilisu Dam will be felt hundreds of miles downstream across large parts of the Tigris-Euphrates Basin, which includes Syria, Iraq, and Iran, exacerbating water shortages that will affect irrigation, biodiversity,...
Action urged over hornbill hunting

Action urged over hornbill hunting

SOURCE: Bangkok Post DATE: September 28, 2019 SNIP: Thailand now has only 100 helmeted hornbills (Rhinoplax vigil), a protected species, due to illegal hunting, and urgent intervention is needed, the Wildlife Conservation Office (WCO) said yesterday. The remaining birds are confined to three wildlife conservation areas, namely Budo-Sungai Padi National Park, Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary and Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary, said Kanchana Nittaya, director of the WCO. A recent round of surveys on the hornbill population found that although the bird has two nesting seasons, it successfully breeds only once a year now. Helmeted hornbills are hunted for their babies and for their casques and ivory, according to Ms Kanchana. Most recently, Traffic, a non-governmental organisation working globally to combat trade in wild animals and plants, found that the vast majority of wildlife products posted for sale on the internet were hornbill-related, she said. During a six-month period from last October to April this year, a total of 546 ornamental objects made of hornbill ivory and casques were offered for sale in 32 out of the monitored 40 online trading groups, she said. Up to 83% of these hornbill products were made of helmeted hornbill casques and...