Posted by: Dan | May 26, 2010

Extinctions in the News

Alaotra Grebe declared extinct (credit: Chris Rose)

Yes, I care.

BirdLife International has announced, in the 2010 IUCN Red List update for birds, the extinction of Alaotra Grebe Tachybaptus rufolavatus. Restricted to a tiny area of east Madagascar, this species declined rapidly after carnivorous fish were introduced to the lakes in which it lived. This, along with the use of nylon gill-nets by fisherman which caught and drowned birds, has driven this species into the abyss.

That brings the list of bird species that have gone extinct since about 1500 CE, where there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died, to 132. Some sources consider the number to be as high as 167, including the 4 species that are extinct in the wild, and some of the 47 birds that are considered “probably extinct.” All told, there are 192 bird species considered “critically endangered or possibly extinct,” and 1,227 species are considered critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable.

BirdLife International is conducting exhaustive searches for the 47 probably extinct birds, so look for a lot more news of bird extinctions in coming years – to say nothing of plants and other animals.

See also BirdLife’s Preventing Extinctions programme.



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