World Bird News August 2014

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2014 |  World Bird News August 2014

Hundreds of thousands of birds accidentally poisoned every year

Hundreds of thousands of birds accidentally poisoned every year

By Elodie Cantaloube, Mon, 28/07/2014 - 13:12

Two thousand, three hundred and fifty five Red and Black kites, 2,146 Griffon Vultures, 638 Black Vultures, 348 Egyptian Vultures, 114 Spanish Imperial Eagles and 40 Bearded Vultures were found poisoned in Spain between 2000 and 2010, according to the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment. All these birds are threatened species and protected under EU law.

Every year around the world, hundreds of thousands of birds are the accidental victims of products used in common activities, including: agricultural pesticides, poison baits, the use of lead for hunting and fishing and veterinary treatments toxic to birds such as diclofenac.

When they do not kill them, these substances usually affect the reproductive success of the adults, which can threaten the survival of vulnerable bird populations and species.

Yet, experience shows that it is possible to minimize and prevent poisoning of birds without much effort and costs, by following experts’ recommendations. BirdLife Partners are very active on the issue, including SEO/BirdLife (BirdLife in Spain) and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK).

In Spain, bird poisoning is mainly the result of poison baits used to kill predators and rodents. Many of these poisons are very strong, and are not only harmful to birds but to the wildlife in general, while more nature-friendly alternatives exist. After years of campaigning by SEO/BirdLife, the Spanish government has finally adopted, in 2004, a national strategy against illegal use of poison baits in the environment, aiming at developing dissuasion techniques and increasing crime prosecution, while raising people’s awareness. Conscious that the success of the strategy relies on civil society’s acceptance, SEO/BirdLife has been working since then in engaging with key stakeholders on the development, implementation and monitoring of the strategy.

The veterinary use of diclofenac is also an increasing issue in the country. This drug, used to cure cattle, is extremely toxic to certain bird species, notably Vultures and Eagles. Although it has caused the dramatic 99% decline of the Vulture population in South Asia, it is still being prescribed to pets and livestock in Spain, where an important fraction of the European Vulture and Eagle populations live. In order to stop an ecological catastrophe from happening in Spain and in Europe in general, SEO/BirdLife, together with the rest of the BirdLife Partnership, is currently campaigning for a ban of veterinary diclofenac at EU level.

As to the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), it has been collecting inputs from many experts worldwide within the last two years. This information has been used to produce recommendations, to prevent, minimise, and where feasible eliminate causes of bird poisoning. A series of guidelines, focusing on migratory birds, was presented to the Convention of Migratory Species on July 1st in Bonn. The Convention, constituted of experts from conservation organisations, including BirdLife, and national and local authorities, will discuss the document. If endorsed it will save many migratory birds from one of the various plagues they are confronted with they are confronted to.

For more information, please contact Willem Van Den Bossche, European Nature Conservation Officer at BirdLife Europe.

Vultures in Africa and Europe could face extinction within our lifetime warn conservationists

By Nick Askew, Sat, 06/09/2014 - 03:44

BirdLife International – the world’s largest conservation partnership - has announced that vultures have rapidly become one of the most threatened families of birds on the planet. In a bid to stop this important family of birds slipping towards extinction in Europe and Africa, today we have launched a global campaign asking for public support to Stop Vulture Poisoning Now.

Following recent catastrophic declines of vultures in Asia that left landscapes littered with carcasses, vultures in Europe and Africa may be set to follow unless we act now – warn conservationists from BirdLife International.

Vultures are important and essential for our health: “Vultures play a fundamental role that no other birds do: they clean our landscapes”, said Iván Ramírez, Head of Conservation for BirdLife International in Europe and Central Asia.

Yet they are facing new and massive threats across Europe and Africa.

A veterinary drug that is lethally toxic to vultures has been discovered to be commercially available in at least two European countries. Used to treat inflammation in livestock, this is the same drug (diclofenac) that has wiped out 99% of vultures in India, Pakistan and Nepal.

At the same time, vultures in Africa are facing increasing threats from poisoning (deliberate and accidental), persecution for body parts to be used in traditional medicine, habitat loss, collision with power-lines, and more.

“Three of every four old-world vulture species are already globally threatened with extinction or Near Threatened according the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”, said Kariuki Ndanganga, BirdLife Africa’s Species Programme Manager. “Unless threats are identified and tackled quickly and effectively, vultures in Africa and Europe could face extinction within our lifetime.”

The decline of vultures in Asia was shockingly fast – quicker than any other wild bird, including the Dodo. Within a decade – almost overnight in ecological timescales – species such as White-rumped Vulture fell by 99.9% as a result of diclofenac in India alone. “Where a thousand birds once flew, on average only a single bird survived the carnage,” added Ramírez.

Despite the tragic experience in Asia and the availability of safe and inexpensive drug alternatives, BirdLife has confirmed that, worryingly, veterinary diclofenac is now commercially available in Spain and Italy. Both these countries are strongholds for vultures in Europe.

As well as the impending threat of diclofenac, a multitude of other complex threats need to be unravelled further in Africa, and investment needed to tackle them. Vultures have declined in West Africa on average by 95% in three decades alone. Across Africa, seven of the eleven vulture species are now listed as globally threatened, with species such as Hooded Vulture recently being up-listed to Endangered in 2011.

As a result, BirdLife International is calling for support towards a ‘Stop Vulture Poisoning Now’ conservation campaign: www.justgiving.com/stop-vulture-poisoning-now

With a Partnership of over 100 independent organisations worldwide, BirdLife has the power and the ability to save vultures, but we urgently need £20,000 to identify, and tackle the threats to these most beautiful and important of birds.

“We know what we need to do in Europe – ban veterinary diclofenac”, said Jim Lawrence, BirdLife’s Preventing Extinctions Programme Manager. “We also know what we need to do for Africa – quickly review the fast-changing threats so we can act quickly, with priority”.

“However you see them, please support the urgent work needed to save Africa and Europe’s threatened vultures by generously supporting our appeal”, concluded Lawrence. “Your support is vital to this work and will make a real difference to its success. So please, dig deep, donate generously now and help us keep vultures flying as high as they should be”.

To support the ‘Stop Vulture Poisoning Now’ campaign, please click here now.

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | World Bird News | World Bird News 2014 |  World Bird News August 2014

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