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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2007, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Worries for at-risk bird species
Displaying pair of waved albatrosses (Simon Stirrup)
Waved albatrosses have suffered because of long-line fishing
More birds than ever are threatened with extinction, according to the latest evaluation by the conservation group BirdLife International.

Its annual assessment of population sizes, trends and ranges for all 10,000 species worldwide indicates that 1,221 now have an Endangered status.

The data will be fed into the IUCN Red List, which documents the status of the planet's flora and fauna.

BirdLife says conservation efforts must be redoubled to reverse the declines.

"There are two sides to this story: whilst conservation efforts have been successful in recovering some species, there are more and more species slipping towards extinction. The challenge becomes greater each year," commented Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife's global species programme co-ordinator

"But where efforts, resources and political will are directed, species can recover. Conservation works," he said. "We just need much more of it in order to turn back the tide of impending extinctions."

BirdLife says the overall conservation status of the world's birds has deteriorated steadily since 1988, when they were first comprehensively assessed. Now, more than a fifth (22%) of the planet's birds are described as being at increased risk of extinction.

"Lowlights" this year include the waved albatross (Diomedea irrorata), which breeds only in the Galapagos Islands.

It has been categorised as Critically Endangered, which under the internationally accepted definitions of the IUCN Red List means the bird is now at extreme high risk of disappearing.

Like all the albatross species it has suffered terribly with the expansion of commercial long-line fishing, in which birds attracted to bait are hooked and pulled under water to drown.

The 2007 Red List, compiled by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), will be released in September.

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30 Mar 05 |  Science/Nature

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