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Biodiversity & Environment

Raptor Species under Threat

  • 06 Sep 2021
  • 4 min read

Why in News

According to recent research, around 30% of the 557 raptor species around the world are threatened by extinction to some degree.

Key Points

  • Raptor Species:
    • About: A raptor is a bird of prey. A bird of prey is a carnivore (meat eater) that kills and eats mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, rodents as well as other birds.
      • All raptors have a hooked beak, strong feet with sharp talons, keen eyesight, and a carnivorous diet.
    • Significance:
      • Raptors prey on a wide range of vertebrates and thus, facilitate long-distance seed dispersal. This indirectly increases seed production and pest control.
      • Birds of prey are predators at the top of the food chain; because threats like pesticides, habitat loss, and climate change have the most dramatic impact on top predators, these are referred to as indicator species.
    • Population: Indonesia has the most raptor species, followed by Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
    • Examples: Owls, vultures, hawks, falcons, eagles, kites, buteos, accipiters, harriers, and osprey.
  • Cause of Threat:
    • Use of Diclofenac: Some vulture populations have declined by over 95% in Asian countries such as India because of the widespread use of diclofenac.
      • Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
    • Deforestation: The population of Philippine eagles, the largest variety of eagles in the world, decreased rapidly in the last decades due to extensive deforestation.
      • The Philippine Eagle is Critically Endangered under IUCN Red List.
    • Shooting and Poisoning: In Africa, vulture populations have decreased by an average of 95% in rural areas over the last 30 years as the result of shooting and poisoning through feeding on carcasses of livestock treated with diclofenac.
    • Habitat Loss and Degradation: The Annobon scops-owl, restricted to Annobon Island off West Africa, was recently classified as ‘critically endangered’ under the IUCN Red List because of rapid habitat loss and degradation.
  • Conservation Efforts:
    • Raptors MoU (Global): The Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia is also known as Raptors MoU.
    • India’s Conservation Efforts:
      • India is a signatory to Raptors MoU.
      • For the conservation of vultures, India has launched a Vulture Action Plan 2020-25.
        • India is also a part of the SAVE (Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction) consortium.
        • The Jatayu Conservation Breeding Centre in Pinjore (Haryana) is the world’s largest facility within the state’s Bir Shikargah Wildlife Sanctuary for the breeding and conservation of Indian vulture species.

Source: DTE

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