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Migratory birds at risk in their journeys, study

Migratory birds at risk in their journeys, study

LONDON: Many migratory birds could face extinction risks from loss of habitat on their long-distance flight paths, unless greater international protection efforts are initiated, researchers are warning.

Poorly-coordinated efforts at conservation on a global scale have left around 90 percent of the world’s migratory birds inadequately protected, they say.

“More than half of migratory bird species travelling the world’s main flyways have suffered serious population declines in the past 30 years,” says Claire Runge of the University of Queensland in Australia.

“This is due mainly to unequal and ineffective protection across their migratory range and the places they stop to refuel along their routes,” says Runge, lead author of a study led by the ARCE Center of Excellence for Environmental Decision and published in the journal Science.

The study found worrying gaps in the global conservation efforts directed at migratory birds, especially across India, China and parts of South America and Africa, the researchers report.

The problem arises because most migratory birds rely on a number of different geographic regions in their annual cycle of feeding, resting and breeding, Runge says.

Many species cross entire continents to seek out warmer habitats during winter months and for breeding, she points out, and long-distance migration puts a strain on the birds, which can lose a significant amount of their body weight during the journey.