‘Four bird species on the edge of extinction’

May 13, 2019 - 19:12

TEHRAN – An ornithology expert, Alireza Hashemi, has warned that four bird species are on the verge of extinction in Iran, driven by the destruction of natural habitats, hunting, and other destructive human actions.

He made the remarks on the occasion of World Migratory Bird Day celebrated on May 11 under the theme of ‘Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution’.

“There are more than 10,000 bird species in the world, 550 of which are inhabiting in Iran, however, two thirds of them are migratory birds and inhabit the country only in some seasons,” Hashemi noted.

Referring to the different kinds of migratory birds which either spend winter or summer in Iran, he said that the winter migrants enter the country from northern borders like Siberia, while birds such as swifts and bee-eaters migrate to the country in the summer from the southern borders.

Protecting migratory birds is a universal task, he said, adding, if several countries protect a migratory bird species, but only one country fails to protect it, the bird is put in jeopardy.

In Iran, four bird species are critically endangered, including, white-backed vulture, sociable plover, Siberian crane and great bustard, he regretted.

Humans are driving bird species to extinction much faster by excessive hunting and habitat destruction, he further lamented, the other leading causes pushing them toward extinction is being poisoned by chemical pesticides and heavy metals.

Unfortunately, eagles and vultures usually lose their lives before they can evolve by poisoning or accident, he added, ISNA reported on Saturday.

Emphasizing on improper waste disposal as the main reason behind poisoning birds, he explained that most of the waste produced daily are dangerous which are carelessly littered in the environment, and since the birds’ bait and habitats have been destroyed, they search and feed on landfills.

So, poisons and heavy metals accumulate in their bodies resulting in infertility and their disappearance, he also added.

Unfortunately, birds today do not have a safe area for nesting in the country; great bustard is among those endangered due to the lack of safe habitat, he concluded.

------------How plastic pollution threatens bird species

Organized by the Secretariats of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), World Migratory Bird Day is an annual, global awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. 

The Day is celebrated on second Saturday in May and October. In 2019, this Day will be held on 10 October, as well. Each year on these days, people and dedicated organizations around the world take action and organize hundreds of public events such as bird festivals, education programs, exhibitions and bird-watching.

Plastic pollution presents a three-fold threat to birds: entanglement in fishing gear and other plastic litter is the most visible but affects fewer individuals.

Ingestion of plastic waste is more pervasive and can affect large proportions of some species. Birds mistake plastic as food causing them to starve to death as their stomachs fill up with indigestible plastic.

Plastic is also being used as nest material. Many birds pick up plastic to line their nests mistaking it for leaves, twigs and other natural items, which can injure and trap fragile chicks.

Discarded fishing gear is responsible for most entanglements among birds at sea, in rivers, lakes and even on land. Seabirds are particularly threatened by fishing gear. Many entangled seabirds are not detected because they die far from land out of sight of humans.

Plastic pollution is a serious and growing threat to migratory birds, which will only further limit their ability to deal with the much larger threat faced by climate change.


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