Battling Avian Extinction
The Avian population in India is battling for survival as 60 per cent of 338 bird species have witnessed sharp decline according to the State of India’s Birds, 2023, a book based on extensive scientific survey. The survey has claimed that 18 per cent of avian species are rapidly declining, while the decline rate is less in the case of 39 other avian species and only eight per cent bird of species have registered an increase in population. According to ornithologists, such a situation has been created due to habitat loss, shrinkage of prey base and climate change along with a number of other related reasons. The bird species facing extinction are those who prefer to live in narrow habitats such as lakes, shallow wetlands, rainforests, grasslands, etc., referred to as ‘specialists’ in ornithological terms. On the other side, birds called ‘generals’ and found in a wide range of habitats such as plantations and agricultural fields are currently still able to survive changing conditions. The number of migratory birds, which visit the country every winter, have also registered noticeable decline. Altogether, the number of disappearing bird species are much higher than the increase in their numbers. Thus, after careful consideration of the situation, the authorities should chalk-out an action plan to save the country’s avian population, which is integral to maintaining India’s ecological balance.
Today, the avian crisis is primarily due to sheer negligence shown by humans in their thirst for growth and expansion. The reduction of sparrow populations in areas of high population density areas due to lack of nesting areas, reduced access to grains, excessive use of insecticides, etc. Vultures, known as the scavenger bird, have seen significant drop in numbers due to excessive ingestion of plastic products left by humans. The absence of these bird species is already being felt and in some places special vulture breeding centers have come up to ensure cleanliness. There are many other visible bird species that were seen earlier, but are now rarely seen. At present, bird sanctuaries remain the only place to watch a variety of birds and experience the richness of avian life in India.
So, it is time to amend the mistakes that we have committed in our quest for rapid advancement without regard for its effect on nature. The extinction of avian species will also spell doom for beautiful flowers as birds play an important role as pollinators. Apart from their role in pollination, birds also perform many other important functions such as scavenging, limiting the population of insects, etc. Thus, an actionable campaign to save the birds should be launched to create awareness about the roles that birds play not only to provide visual delight, but help maintain natural ecological harmony. Simultaneously, steps should be taken to prevent further degradation of the environment and create an avian-friendly environment, aimed at minimising existential threats to India’s avian population.