"In global terms, things continue to get worse – but there are some real conservation success stories this year to give us hope and point the way forward", said Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife's Director of Science and Policy.
Sidamo Lark Heteromirafra sidamoensis from the Liben Plain of Ethiopia has also been uplisted to this category due to changes in land use, and is in danger of becoming mainland Africa’s first bird extinction.
The main cause of these birds’ demise is longline fishing. Boats cast fishing lines behind them - some over 100 km long with thousands of baited hooks. Birds swarm to the baits, get hooked and are subsequently drowned. “We estimated more than 100,000 albatrosses die each year”, warned Dr Sullivan.
Climate change, shifting the breeding range of many European bird species northwards, is likely to lengthen the migrants' marathon journeys substantially, in some cases by hundreds of miles, a new scientific study predicts. The added distance is likely to make what are already hazardous and chancey long-distance flights even more risky, with possible fatal consequences for many birds.
The 2009 update highlights the plight of Sidamo Lark Heteromirafra sidamoensis. Found only in south-central Ethiopia, its global range was previously estimated at 760 km2 with a population size of almost 2,000 individuals. But studies in 2007-2008 by researchers from BirdLife, the University of Cambridge, Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society (BirdLife in Ethiopia) and University of East Anglia discovered that available habitat covered just 35 km2, and density estimates provided a global population estimate of only 90-256 adults, all found on the Liben plain.
The mice are also affecting Gough Island’s other Critically Endangered endemic species, Gough Bunting Rowettia goughensis. A recent survey of the bunting’s population revealed that the population has halved within the last two decades. Now there are only an estimated 400-500 pairs left.
But Gough is the stage for one of nature's greatest horror shows. One of those whaling boats, probably from Britain, carried a few house mice stowaways who jumped ship on Gough. Now there are 700,000 or more of them on the island, which is the size of Guernsey.
Through a series of regional and national workshops specifically tailored to the needs and requirements of the region, WetCap will provide training for conservation professionals from the five countries to improve the conservation status and management of waterbirds at key wetland sites. The project will also allocate small grants to local waterbird and wetland conservation projects.
“Their epic flights connect us all - crossing our borders, cultures and lives. However, we are destroying the habitat they need to rest and re-fuel, building hazardous structures such as powerlines which cross their path, and illegally shooting and trapping them", added Dr Lambertini.