The number of bird species listed as critically endangered has reached an all-time high with the release of this year’s Red List for birds by BirdLife International and is national partners, including BirdLife Botswana.“Globally, almost 200 species of bird are now in real danger of being lost forever”, Harold Hester, BirdLife Botswana’s chairman. “They are being hit on multiple fronts. Habitat loss, agricultural changes, invasive species, climate change and closer to home poisoning, are the principle threats. Without these problems being addressed the list will continue to grow.” The total number of species recognised by BirdLife in the 2013 Red List update is 10 065. The number of species by category is: Extinct 130; Extinct in the Wild 4; Critically Endangered 198; Endangered 397; Vulnerable 713; Near Threatened 888; Least Concern 7,675; and Data Deficient 60.
For Botswana, there are three species as Endangered (Grey Crowned-crane, White-backed Vulture and Hooded Vulture), and nine as Vulnerable. All of Botswana’s vultures are now listed as either Endangered or Vulnerable because their populations have declined catastrophically over recent years largely due to poisoning by some farmers and wildlife poachers in Botswana and the surrounding countries. “The farmers would typically lace livestock carcasses with poison targeting mammalian carnivores that are thought to pose a threat to livestock, but often, it is the non-targeted vultures that find the poisoned carcasses and then mistakenly killed”, said Dr Kabelo Senyatso, BirdLife Botswana’s Director. “As for wildlife poachers, we have discovered disturbing trends where these poachers deliberately poison elephant carcasses because otherwise if vulture circled over these carcasses, they would alert security personnel to the poaching incidences”.
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