African Birds are in Trouble

There are 10,000 bird species on earth. Almost 1,300 of them are listed as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.

SA bird population according to IOL link

The report shows how the conservation status of birds has declined drastically over the past 30 years with 132 species now classified as regionally threatened with the number of critically endangered and endangered bird species increasing significantly since the 2000 assessment.

The groups most affected are seabirds and raptors. 

The report reveals how the Cape Vulture, whose breeding distribution once covered southern Africa, is now being pushed back into into its last remaining strongholds in Limpopo and Eastern Cape as is the Lappet-faced vulture, now largely confined to protected areas in the Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.

Fish stocks upon which seabirds depend have been heavily exploited, and mortality from direct seabird-fishery interactions provides conditions to depress annual seabird survival rates," says Taylor.

Some causes
  • Loss of habitat
    • Farming, Mining, human settlements etc
  • Global warming
  • Loss of breeding grounds
  • Pollution of river systems
  • Pollution of the sea
  • Fishing or over fishing
  • Recreation activities
  • Tourist developments
  • Pet trade
  • Poisoning
  • Human beliefs
  • Invasive birds
Almost 50% of bird species are declining. That is 5,000 bird species. Research has shown that only 6% of the surveyed species shows an increase in population. In North America nearly 3 billion breeding birds are lost. In Europe millions of birds have been lost in the last 40 years.

Two groups of birds stand out on endangered bird species lists in South Africa. Seabirds and raptor species. Fish stock which seabirds depend on have been exploited.

An example here is the Southern Banded Snake Eagle, which went from vulnerable to a critically endangered. The Bearded Vulture, Hooded Vulture and White-headed Vulture are also critically endangered.

The Cape Vulture breeding distribution once covered southern Africa, is now confined to Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. The Lappet-faced Vulture is now confined to protected areas in the Northern Cape and KZN.

Other examples
Wattled Crane. In 2000, only 235 individuals remained in South Africa. Declined 38% from 1980 to 2000.
African Penguin. Declined over 60% in the last 28 years.
Blue Swallow. Probably less than 50 breeding pairs are remaining in South Africa.
Migratory waders declined by 90% and 30% of large terrestrial birds are threatened.