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State of India’s Birds 2020

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    28th Feb, 2020

Recently, a new scientific report, ‘State of India’s Birds 2020 was jointly released by 10 organisations.

Context

Recently, a new scientific report, ‘State of India’s Birds 2020 was jointly released by 10 organisations.

About

  • State of India’s Birds 2020 (SoIB) was produced using a base of 867 species.
  • It is analysed with the help of data uploaded by birdwatchers to the online platform, eBird.
  • Adequate data on how birds fared over a period of over 25 years (long-term trend) are available only for 261 species.
  • Current annual trends are calculated over a five-year period.
  • The assessment says that
    • Over a fifth of India’s bird diversity has suffered strong long-term declines over a 25-year period.
    • More recent annual trends point to a drastic 80% loss among several common birds.

Key findings:

  • The State of India’s Birds 2020 (SoIB) assessment raises the alarm that several spectacular birds, many of them endemic to the sub-continent, face a growing threat from loss of habitat due to:
    • Human activity.
    • The widespread presence of toxins, including pesticides.
    • Hunting and trapping for the pet trade.
  • It is highlighted that, for every bird species that were found to be increasing in numbers over the long term, 11 have suffered losses, some catastrophically.
  • 101 species have been categorised as being of High Conservation Concern.
    • 59 are based on range and abundance.
    • Rest are included from high-risk birds on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List.
  • Endemics such as the Rufous-fronted Prinia, Nilgiri Thrush, Nilgiri Pipit and Indian vulture have been confirmed as suffering a current decline.
  • All except 13 had a restricted or highly restricted range, indicating greater vulnerability to man-made threats.
  • Among widely known species, the common sparrow, long seen as declining in urban spaces, has a stable population overall.
  • The analysis concludes that raptors overall are in decline, with ‘open country’ species such as the Pallid and Montagu Harriers, White-bellied Sea Eagle and Red-necked Falcon suffering the most.
  • The severe long-term decline of vultures is underscored by the report.
  • Migratory shorebirds, along with gulls and terns, seem to have declined the most among waterbirds.

Suggestions by the report:

  • An update to the Red List of endangered species published by IUCN using the SoIB.
  • Collaborative research by scientists and citizens. Targeted research to pinpoint causes of decline.
  • Urgent emphasis on habitats of species of high concern, notably grasslands, scrublands, wetlands and the Western Ghats.
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