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12 bird species threatened in Lebanon: Report

12 species of birds in Lebanon are threatened, and 16 other species of birds are near threatened according to the 2014 Red List prepared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The IUCN prepared its report based on studies conducted by BirdLife International and other partner organizations.

The eight species of birds added to the threatened list include the Sociable Plover which is listed as Critically Endangered because its population has undergone a very rapid reduction, for reasons that are poorly understood; this decline is projected to continue and increase in the future. Fieldwork in Kazakhstan (and counts in Turkey and the Middle East) has shown the population to be substantially larger than previously feared, but recent demographic studies have found low adult survival, possibly largely driven by hunting pressure along the migration routes and wintering grounds.

The report included three other species (Egyptian Vulture, Saker Falcon, Velvet Scoter) listed as Endangered.

– The Egyptian Vulture long-lived species qualifies as Endangered owing to a recent and extremely rapid population decline in India (presumably resulting from poisoning by the veterinary drug Diclofenac) combined with severe long-term declines in Europe (>50% over the last three generations [42 years]) and West Africa, plus ongoing declines through much of the rest of its African range.

– The Saker Falcon has been uplisted to Endangered because a revised population trend analysis indicates that it may be undergoing a very rapid decline. This negative trend is a result of unsustainable capture for the falconry trade, as well as habitat degradation and the impacts of agrochemicals, and the rate of decline appears to be particularly severe in the species’s central Asian breeding grounds. This classification is highly uncertain and may be revised when new information becomes available. Surveys are urgently needed to produce more robust and less uncertain population estimates, in particular for China, Russia and Mongolia. Further research to monitor key populations and to clarify the extent of the threat from trapping and its effect on population trends is vital.

– Velvet Scoter is newly split species qualifies as Endangered because it is estimated to be undergoing a very rapid population decline. The causes of this decline, however, are not fully understood, and further research is needed to inform conservation actions.

Eight other species is considered vulnerable

Conservation measures have resulted in a population increase for Dalmatian Pelican in Europe, particularly at the species’s largest colony, at Lake Mikri Prespa in Greece, and also in other countries, following implementation of conservation actions. However, rapid population declines in the remainder of its range are suspected to be continuing and therefore the species is listed as Vulnerable.

Great Bustard has suffered rapid population reductions across most of its range owing to the loss, degradation and fragmentation of its habitat, as well as hunting. Although populations in its Iberian stronghold have stabilised and possibly increased, hunting in Central Asia results in high rates of adult mortality, and land-use changes in eastern Europe, Russia and central Asia may have a significant impact on this species’s population and the extent of its remaining habitat, such that it is likely to continue declining at a rapid rate over the next three generations. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable. Should research show the species to be declining at a more moderate rate, it would warrant downlisting to a lower category of threat.

Houbara is classified as Vulnerable because it has undergone rapid population declines over three generations (20 years) owing largely to unsustainable hunting levels, as well as habitat degradation.

Imperial Eagle has a small global population, and is likely to be undergoing continuing declines, primarily as a result of habitat loss and degradation, adult mortality through persecution and collision with powerlines, nest robbing and prey depletion. It is therefore listed as Vulnerable. More information is needed to confirm the size and trends of populations in Asia. Should this information show that the population is larger than currently thought, or declining at a more moderate rate, the species will warrant downlisting to a lower threat category.

Spotted Eagle has a small population which appears to be declining owing to extensive habitat loss and persistent persecution. It is therefore listed as Vulnerable.

The latest IUCN list also shows that the famous Syrian Serin is classified as Vulnerable because the small population, which was once thought to be stable, appears to have declined at key sites since 1996, principally owing to the effects of a drought exacerbating the threat from grazing pressure.

Yelkouan Shearwater has been uplisted to Vulnerable as it is estimated to be undergoing a rapid population decline, caused by extremely low breeding success and adult survival owing to fisheries bycatch and predation by introduced mammals. Declines have probably been on-going for many years, and are projected to continue. The species may be declining more rapidly than this and should this be confirmed, the species will warrant uplisting to a higher threat category.

The list shows that a similar situation exists globally with 13 per cent of all bird species on the threatened list. The total number of species recognised by BirdLife in the 2014 Red List is 10,425. Among them 140 species are extinct, 4 extinct in the wild, 213 critically endangered, 419 endangered and 741 vulnerable, the IUCN list said.

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