As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Flightless bird provides 'spark of hope' amid environmental crisis

Ten species with improved numbers in IUCN red list unveiled amid call for more biodiversity focus at COP25

by Fiona Harvey in Madrid

Tue 10 Dec 2019 13.54 GMTLast modified on Wed 11 Dec 2019 08.38 GMT

The Guam rail, a flightless bird typically about 30cm long, usually dull brown in colour and adorned with black and white stripes, has become a rare success story in the recent history of conservation.

Previously extinct in the wild, the bird has been saved by captive breeding programmes and on Tuesday its status was updated on the IUCN red list of threatened species to critically endangered, along with nine others whose numbers have recently improved.

The Guam rail fell prey to the brown tree snake, an invasive species accidentally introduced to the US island territory at the end of the second world war. It is only the second bird in history to recover from being extinct in the wild, after the California condor.

Other species to have their status updated include the echo parakeet, of which there are now more than 750 in the wild, leading to a reclassification as a “vulnerable” species, having been critically endangered more than a decade ago.

The Australian trout cod and pedder galaxias, both freshwater fish, have also showed improvement, the former moving from endangered to vulnerable and the latter from critically endangered to endangered, after many years of conservation efforts.

The 10 species showing recovered numbers were “a spark of hope in the midst of the biodiversity crisis”, said Grethel Aguilar, the acting director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, whose red list is the global gold standard data covering species on the brink. “[They] prove that nature will recover if given half a chance.”

However, the red list data released on Tuesday also showed 73 species declines despite conservation efforts, and the list now numbers 112,432 species around the world, of which more than 30,000 are on the brink of extinction.

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