Rising above the earth and soaring through skies, birds have been an integral part of creation. They are agents of dispersal and bio-indicators and are essential to the food chain.
There are more than 10,000 species of birds across the world and they are the most conspicuous form of animal life that we encounter.
Unfortunately today, owing to human involvement and activities more than 500 species of birds have been negatively affected. A lot of the species have also gone extinct over the past century. Cell phone tower radiations, global warming, pollution etc. have disturbed the natural ecosystems of the birds leading to diseases and deaths.
A study by Stanford University biologists has predicted that ten per cent of all bird species are likely to disappear by the year 2100, and another 15 percent could be on the brink of extinction. "Our projections indicate that, by 2100, up to 14 percent of all bird species may be extinct and that as many as one out of four may be functionally extinct-that is, critically endangered or extinct in the wild," said researcher Cagan H. Sekercioglu of the Stanford Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) and lead author of the PNAS study. "Important ecosystem processes, particularly decomposition, pollination and seed dispersal, will likely decline as a result."
Today one in eight bird species worldwide faces the threat of extinction. And the worst part is that it is not just the rare or exotic species, but also the birds that that have been a part of our everyday life growing up. The chirping sparrows in the balcony don't wake us up any more and the dancing peacocks are now a rare sight.
Peacock - India's national bird faces a serious threat owing to increased poaching to sell peacock feathers, indiscriminate use of pesticides by farmers and legal loopholes to nab the offenders. Sparrows are facing endangerment in many parts of the world and have practically disappeared from Delhi - owing to the extreme radiation from cell phone towers.
Agriculture is actually one of the leading reasons for the steep decline of birds across the country putting close to 87% of our birds at a risk of extinction and invasive species put 51% of the total birds at risk, in addition to residential and commercial development, trapping, hunting and pollution. Most of the causes mentioned above lead to destruction and egradation of the natural habitat of birds.
Vultures are also fast becoming endangered since they feed on carcasses of animals that have been subjected to high doses of pesticides and plastic we ignorantly throw away.
A three-year study by The Peregrine Fund and Ornithological Society of Pakistan (BirdLife in Pakistan) investigated vulture mortalities in the Pakistan Punjab. The study found that 85 percent of 259 vultures examined had died of visceral gout, a condition caused by renal failure. Vultures appear to have been exposed to certain drugs while scavenging livestock carcasses.
Across the Mediterranean, millions of Songbirds are killed for food, money & cruel entertainment. In Cyprus and Malta, birds such as warblers, cuckoos, small owls and hawks are a delicacy. In Egypt alone, around ten million migratory birds are killed every year, when they come exhausted over the Mediterranean Sea and get trapped in precarious nets set up over the sand dunes and are then offered as a delicacy all across the country.
The fact is taste buds across the world and more than everything else, our intentions are scary. Even a minute disruption in the ecological system has the potential to bear big results. Call it the food chain or call it the cycle of Karma; what you do will come back to you.