Spix’s macaw, a brilliant blue species of Brazilian parrot that starred in the children’s animation Rio, has become extinct this century, according to a new assessment of endangered birds.
The macaw is one of eight species, including the poo-uli, the Pernambuco pygmy-owl and the cryptic treehunter, that can be added to the growing list of confirmed or highly likely extinctions, according to a new statistical analysis by BirdLife International.
Historically, most bird extinctions have been small-island species vulnerable to hunting or invasive species but five of these new extinctions have occurred in South America and are attributed by scientists to deforestation.
Stuart Butchart, BirdLife International’s chief scientist, said the new study highlighted that an extinction crisis was now unfolding on large continents, driven by human habitat destruction.
“People think of extinctions and think of the dodo but our analysis shows that extinctions are continuing and accelerating today,” he said. “Historically 90% of bird extinctions have been small populations on remote islands. Our evidence shows there is a growing wave of extinctions washing over the continent driven by habitat loss from unsustainable agriculture, drainage and logging.”
More than 26,000 of the world’s species are now threatened, according to the latest “red list” assessment, with scientists warning that humans are driving a sixth great extinction event. [Continue reading…]