The Curlew Sandpiper, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Bar-tailed Godwit, commonly seen on the Sewri mudflats, have been added to the list of endangered birds.

In all eights birds from India have been added to the 2015 list released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Only one species the European Roller has been downloaded from Near Threatened status to Least Concerned. The total number of Indian birds on the Red List has gone up from 173 last year to 180.

A Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) press release said among the eight species newly added to the Red List, five have been uplisted (a sign of increased threat) from Least Concerned to Near Threatened category. These include Northern Lapwing (a grassland bird) and four wetland birds, viz. Red Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Bar-Tailed Godwit. Two other wetland birds, viz. Horned Grebe and Common Pochard have been uplisted from Least Concerned to Vulnerable. Steppe Eagle (a raptor from grasslands), which is a regular winter visitor to the Indian subcontinent, has been uplisted from Least Concerned to Endangered. Dr Deepak Apte, Director BNHS, said "The list of threatened species keeps on increasing with every assessment. That itself symbolizes that our efforts for conservation of species are not adequate. We need to logically rethink the developmental agenda, especially for the habitats and areas where these species exist. Some of the neglected habitats should therefore be a part of protected areas or marked as ecologically sensitive sites."

Birds face a range of threats among which habitat loss is common to most species in the red list. Grasslands, wetlands, forests and other habitats are getting destroyed at an alarming rate, primarily due to unsustainable developmental activities.

For instance, Curlew Sandpiper is under threat due to factors like reservoir and marshland alteration by commercial salt works, habitat degradation because of diminishing rainfall and hunting.

Apart from loss of grassland habitat, the other reason for decline of Steppe Eagle, which mostly scavenges on animal carcasses, is the use of veterinary diclofenac that causes renal failure in these birds, said the press release.

Source: October 29, 2015, The Times of India