Friday, May 28, 2010

Alaotra grebe extinct

It's not a good decade to be an alaotra grebe, a waterbird of Madagascar distinguished by its tiny though functional wings. The new IUCN Red List marks it as the first bird species to go extinct in this century. Netting by fisherman and the introduction of predatory fish into the only lake housing the grebe have put paid to the species.
The Red List highlights several other birds whose continued existence is unclear, Cuba's zapata rail may disappear at any time, if it's not gone already. (An unusual note is that the rail was described by American ornithologist James Bond, whose book happened to be in writer Ian Fleming's room when Fleming was trying to think of a good name for a spy. So if British Intelligence is reading this, they might want to send 007 to Cuba to investigate an urgent mystery.)
The IUCN report is not all bleak: it upgrades the status of two birds that have benefited from conservation efforts.

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