A recent list of 100 Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) birds released by the Zoological Society London (ZSL) and Yale university includes 15 species from India.
The EDGE list, which is based on research by ZSL and Yale experts, consists of critically threatened Indian species such as the Bengal Florican, Forest Owlet, Red-headed Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Jerdon's Courser, Lesser Florican, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Sociable Lapwing, Siberian Crane, Great Indian Bustard, Greater Adjutant, White-bellied Heron, Wood Snipe, Masked Finfoot, Christmas Island
Of these 15, there are ongoing conservation efforts for 12 by one of the oldest and most respected organisations in the country, the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). The species on the list are spread over a wide variety of habitats in not just forests but also grasslands and wetlands.
Commenting on the need to conserve these habitats, Dr Asad Rahmani, director of BNHS, said, "Habitats such as grasslands and wetlands and the species inhabiting them have long been neglected in the conservation process in India. Comprehensive conservation action based on in-depth field research is required to save these species from going extinct. Today, these habitats are facing some of the most severe human pressures, which endanger the survival of the avian populations found there."
The threat from unsustainable human activities is rapidly increasing in all types of ecosystems. The Great Indian Bustard, for instance, has a meagre population of 25 in Maharashtra, which is susceptible to extinction along with other birds such as the Forest Owlet, which are threatened by destruction of forest and grassland.
Internationally renowned conservationist Dr AJT Johnsingh said, "It is gratifying to note that organisations like BNHS are promoting conservation programmes for 12 of the 15 EDGE bird species, so as to try and ensure their future survival."