Threats to birds around the world

It’s safe to say that out of the many reasons for the dangers faced by countless feathered denizens of our planet, most explanations are attributed to man related activities. Birds form an integral part of the functioning of ecosystems and thus are intrinsically important for our planet as a whole. If we don’t take measures to eliminate these damage inflicting causes to these beings, we neglect a vital part of our world at our own peril. Here are some of the threats faced by birds in India –

Chemical Contamination

With industries, agricultural fields and housing complexes on the edge of India’s major rivers, copious amounts of effluents are released into the water every year, contaminating most of it. These rivers feed into an array of habitats, the primary ones being wetlands which serve as a lifeline for as much as 20% of bird species across the country. Many of the heavy metals from the waste generated ends up in the diet of these birds causing toxins to biomagnify in their tissues and organs, resulting in serious fatalities.

Predators

Not only wildlife but a significant feral population is the cause for the decimation of countless species. With the domestication of dogs and cats on the rise, many species of birds, especially the likes of partridges dwelling in forests, wetlands and even farmland are subjected to hunting. A further spike in these animal numbers will endanger and possibly wipe out populations that are already highly vulnerable.

Disease

Another peril which is detrimental to large congregations of birds is contagion through bacteria and viruses that could possibly kill large wintering flocks in a specific area. It happened in the state of Rajasthan recently where over 18,000 birds fell victim to avian botulism (a neuromuscular illness caused by the toxin produced by a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum).

Poaching and Trafficking

Whether it’s for meat, game or wildlife trade, migratory birds often fall prey to hunting and trafficking by human beings. In India, this has been recorded amongst tribes and rural folk where communities occasionally subsist on game meat. While in many towns and major cities, Rose Ringed Parakeets are captured and sold as pets. In the state of Nagaland, thousands of Amur Falcons are massacred during their passage through the state. However, measures are being taken to raise awareness amongst locals which will serve as a pivotal point in the future to protect these highly endangered birds of prey.

Planting of Non – Native Trees

Planting exotic or non-native species in India has resulted in plants taking over and establishing themselves over larger areas. This has resulted in the decimation of many native species that birds depend on. Plants such as lantana and water hyacinths have been the cause of the degradation of several national parks and wetlands/lakes respectively across the country resulting in the disappearance of species

Climate Change

is probably the biggest threat that looms overpopulations of birds over the world. With the unpredictable change in seasons, it becomes difficult for birds to anticipate the ideal time to migrate as food becomes scarce and areas for nesting coming under stiff competition. This is also attributed to deforestation considering forests act as watersheds that prevent excess runoff. With very little green cover holding onto rain and river water, many nesting sites along the banks of rivers are getting washed away during unprecedented showers.

Habitat Degradation and Fragmentation

With development at the forefront of our civilization; energy projects, agricultural takeover and establishment of residential areas across the country have left many wetlands, woodland and river ecosystems desolate and depleted. This has left very little room for birds to flourish. Isolated in smaller areas, birds face all of the above challenges as they undertake the gruelling task to survive.
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