Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend
The Government of India has been pushing out "misleading" data on the country's drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes "State of India's Birds Report 2020" to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.
Prepared jointly by the Wildlife Institute of India, the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History and the National Biodiversity Authority, the "State of India's Bird Report" further says, "In all, 43% of species showed a long-term trend that was stable and 5% showed an increasing trend. Current annual trends could be estimated for 146 species. Of these, nearly 80% are declining, with almost 50% declining strongly. Just over 6% are stable and 14% increasing."
This, says the report published in The Third Pole, authored by Nikhil Eapen, stands in sharp contrast with what what Union environment, forest and climate change minister Prakash Javadekar and his junior partner Babul Supriyo said in Parliament. If Javdekar told a UN biodiversity summit that "with only 2.5% of the world's landmass, we have 8% of the world's recorded biodiversity," Supriyo told Parliament that the Government of India had "no data" to show that "endangered bird populations in the country were in a state of continuous decline."
The Third Pole said, "Eagle and vulture numbers have plummeted, but so have the counts of several neglected species like the Finn's Weaver. In 20 years, Finn's Weaver populations in Uttarakhand have dropped by as much as 94%, with less than 500 birds found in India", adding, "This is not the only evidence that shows birds in India are collapsing. In five years, since 2015, the number of bird species at high risk of extinction in India has shot up from 82 to 101, according to data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List."
Birds population alone is not under threat, the report says. It quotes Rajeev Raghavan, professor at the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies and an IUCN SSC Freshwater Fish Red List Coordinator as saying, "There are 159 species of freshwater fish threatened by extinction in India, but none of them are listed under the Wildlife Protection Act. If the fish are not protected by law, the purpose of assessing and prioritising them is quite pointless."