List of critically endangered Australian birds swells

The Regent Honeyeater has been moved from endangered to critically endangered.This means that it is now facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Population decline has greatly accelerated in the last decade. Dean Ingwersen

A new report on Australian birds has added four more species to the critically endangered list and found that a total of 39 species or sub-species are more threatened now than they were a decade ago.

The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010, compiled by researchers from Charles Darwin University and published today by the CSIRO, is an update on the previous report released in 2000.

This 2010 report lists 27 taxa (which means species or sub-species) as Extinct, 20 as Critically Endangered, 60 as Endangered, 68 as Vulnerable and 63 as Near Threatened as at 31 December, 2010.

“Of bird taxa known to have been present or to have occurred regularly in Australia when Europeans settled in 1788, 2.2% are Extinct and a further 11.8% are threatened,” said a statement released by conservation group Birds Australia to accompany the report’s launch.

The four taxa that that were added to the Critically Endangered list are the Grey-headed Albatross, the Western Ground Parrot, the Regent Honeyeater and the Norfolk Island Tasman Parakeet.

However, seven taxa have been downlisted because conservation efforts have improved population numbers.

The seven are the Gouldian Finch (which went from Endangered to Near Threatened), the Southern Cassowary, the Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle, Albert’s Lyrebird, Abbott’s Booby, the Christmas Island Hawk-Owl (which shifted from Critically Endangered to Vulnerable as a result action to control invasive ants) and the Southern subspecies of Western Corella (which shifted from Endangered to Least Concern).

The report is based on interviews with experts around the country and a review of scientific literature on Australian bird populations that has been released since 2000, said report author Judit Szabo, a research fellow at Charles Darwin University’s Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods.

“The situation would be worse without the conservation efforts of the last ten years but there is still a lot of work to do,” said Dr Szabo.

“There needs to be more money going into conservation. Australia is not doing well compared to the rest of the world.”

Dr Szabo also called for more coordinated efforts between agencies responsible for controlled burning and action on overseas threats such as long line fishing, which is driving down albatross numbers.

Many of the birds added to the list in 2010 have faced habitat loss along their migratory pathways in East Asia, introduced predators or land clearance.

Domestic and feral animals, including herbivores that contribute to habitat loss, remain a major threat, the report found.

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