IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 15 bird species from India are in critically endangered list

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Birds 2013 marked 15 species of birds from India as critically endangered (CR).

  • Critically Endangered (CR): The highest risk category of the IUCN Red List of threatened species, comprising those that are facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. 

Bird species falling under the Critically Endangered category in India:-

  • Migratory wetland species: Baer’s Pochard, Siberian Crane and Spoon-billed Sandpiper.
  • Non-migratory wetland species: White-bellied Heron.
  • Grassland species:Bengal Florican, Great Indian Bustard, Jerdon’s Courser and Sociable Lapwing.
  • Forest species:Forest Owlet.
  • Scavengers: Indian Vulture, Red-headed Vulture, White-backed Vulture and Slender-billed Vulture.
  • Himalayan Quail and Pink-headed Duck are now considered Extinct for all practical purposes.

Uplisted (facing greater danger) species in 2013 IUCN list from

  • Least Concern to Near Threatened: River Lapwing and River Tern.
  • Least Concern to Vulnerable: Long-tailed Duck.
  • Cause: Decline of these species due to destruction of wetlands and riverine habitats. 

Major reasons of decline of bird species in India

  • Drastic modification, fragmentation, degradation and loss of habitat, environmental pollution (both industrial and due to increased pesticide usage), poaching and land use changes, etc.
  • Changes in cropping pattern due to various reasons, including implementation of irrigation schemes, increased pesticide usage, livestock-grazing, high levels of disturbance and developmental activities viz. mining and hydel projects resulted in marginal fall in their population.
  • Drastic loss of grassland habitat over the past decades has severely threatened species viz. Great Indian Bustard, Bengal Florican and Jerdon’s Courser.
  • Destruction of deciduous forests in central India has lead to the decline in Forest Owlet numbers.
  • Destruction of forests in the fragile Western Ghats and Himalaya continue to endanger the existence of many other species.
  • Use of chemical components as in the case of diclofenac’s effect of vulture species.

About IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

  • Headquarters:United Kingdom.
  • Founded: 1964.
  • Parent organization: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • World’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.
  • Objective: To have the category of every species re-evaluated every five years if possible or at least every ten years.
  • Powerful tool to inform and catalyze action for biodiversity conservation and policy change, critical to protecting the natural resources we need to survive.
  • Provides information on population size and trends, geographic range and habitat needs of species.
  • Evaluates species in 9 categories through a criteria viz. rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population, distribution fragmentation, etc.

Categories: Extinct (EX), Extinct in the Wild (EW), Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU), Near Threatened (NT), Least Concern (LC), Data Deficient (DD) and Not Evaluated (NE).