Yet Another Bird Has Gone Extinct in the Last 10 Years
Almost 1,500 bird species are now threatened — and humans are to blame.
The Brazilian Spix's macaw is the eighth avian species to go extinct this century, according to an updated study on endangered birds, the Guardian reports. Of these eight species, the majority have gone extinct within the last 10 years.
The Spix's macaw is identified by its vibrant blue feathers and is the same species of parrot that starred in the 2011 animated film Rio.
The macaw had been critically endangered and considered possibly extinct in the wild for decades due to trapping for trade and habitat loss, according to BirdLife International. In 2016, a sighting — the only one since 2000 — was caught on video in Curaca, Brazil.
Since this last sighting, scientists have confirmed that the Spix's macaw is extinct in the wild, though a few dozen are being bred in captivity as part of the conservation effort to eventually reintroduce the species into the wild. According to Brazil's Environmental Ministry, the captive population has grown from 79 in 2012 to 158 this year. However, there is no guarantee that the Spix's macaw will ever thrive in the wild again.
The brilliant blue bird joins the existing list of extinct bird species alongside four other birds native to Brazil where illegal logging has greatly damaged forest ecosystems.
In the past, bird extinctions have primarily been among small island species threatened by hunting or invasive species. However, the five newest additions to the extinct bird list have all been South American species that scientists at BirdLife International say were driven to extinction by human-caused habitat destruction.
"People think of extinctions and think of the dodo but our analysis shows that extinctions are continuing and accelerating today," Stuart Butchart of BirdLife International told the Guardian. "Our evidence shows there is a growing wave of extinctions washing over the continent driven by habitat loss from unsustainable agriculture, drainage, and logging."
Globally, 1,469 bird species are threatened with extinction and human activity is largely to blame. Nearly 75% of threatened bird species are endangered due to farming practices, which cause habitat destruction.
As of June, 26,000 species around the world face the threat of extinction.
Biodiversity loss impacts entire ecosystems — not just avian and other wildlife species. And as humans, we are not immune to the damage we inflict on the environment.
“The world needs to know that we are degrading nature and that is undermining human well-being and our ability to supply food, clean water, and energy,” Sir Robert Watson, chair of the Centre for Science and Policy for People and Nature, told Public Radio International in April. “As we continue to degrade our environment, it's not just an environmental issue, it's also a development issue.”