Grim news for the world's raptors—an iconic group of birds consisting of hawks, falcons, kites, eagles, vultures and owls. After analyzing the status of all 557 raptor species, biologists discovered that 18 percent of these birds are threatened with extinction and 52 percent have declining global populations, making them more threatened than all birds as a whole. Comparatively, 40 percent of the world's 11,000 bird species are in decline, according to an April report from BirdLife International.
The new research, published last week in the journal Biological Conservation, was led by biologists at The Peregrine Fund and in collaboration with nine scientific organizations and is the first to focus specifically on the status of raptors, according to Stuart Butchart chief scientist at BirdLife International and one of the paper's coauthors.
"In particular, raptor species that require forest are more likely to be threatened and declining than those that do not, and migratory raptors were significantly more threatened than resident species," Butchart said on the BirdLife International website. "The greatest concentrations of threatened species are found in South and South-East Asia."
"Vultures in South Asia have suffered catastrophic population declines owing to the toxic effects of the veterinary drug diclofenac," Butchart continued. "In Africa, vultures and owls are killed for their body parts to be used for supposed medicinal benefits. Many other raptors are vulnerable to electrocution or collision with powerlines. But as with most bird species, unsustainable agriculture and logging are the primary threats."
Source: EcoWatch, September 11, 2018