Puffins and turtle doves among four UK birds 'at risk of global extinction'

'The erosion of the UK’s wildlife is staggering'

Serina Sandhu
Thursday 29 October 2015 14:17 GMT
The Atlantic puffin is vulnerable to extinction
The Atlantic puffin is vulnerable to extinction (RSPB)

Four birds from the UK are at risk of global extinction, according to a conservation database.

Atlantic puffins, European turtle doves, Slavonian grebes and pochards have all been placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species for birds.

This has doubled the number of UK species on the critical list to eight. Another 14 species are considered to be “near threatened” including oystercatchers and lapwings.

“Today’s announcement means that the global wave of extinction is now lapping at our shores,” said Martin Harper, a conservation director at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

“The erosion of the UK’s wildlife is staggering and this is reinforced when you talk about puffin and turtle dove now facing the same level of extinction threat as African elephant and lion, and being more endangered than the humpback whale,” he said.

The decline in pochards is partly down to hunting and habitat destruction, while a reduction in breeding has contributed to fewer puffins, turtle doves and grebes, the BBC reported.

Gwyn Williams, the RSPB’s Head of Reserves and Protected Areas, said funding and conservation measures would allow the threatened species to recover.

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The IUCN list also reported six species of African vultures were at a higher risk of extinction partly due to poisoning.

Julius Arinaitwe of Birdlife International, a global partnership of conservation organisations which carried out the assessment, said the decline of vultures in Africa would affect people in the country and tourists.

“As well as robbing the African skies of one of their most iconic and spectacular groups of birds... the rapid decline of the continent’s vultures has profound consequences for its people – as vultures help stop the spread of diseases by cleaning up rotting carcasses."

Additional reporting by PA

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