Invasive Fish Drives Madagascar Bird Extinct

//

A bird once found only in a single lake in Madagascar has been driven to extinction, conservationists say.

BirdLife International, a conservation group, said the Alaotra grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus) died out because of pressure from a carnivorous fish, the snakehead murrel.

In its native Asian waters, the snakehead murrel is thought to be the main fish food for people in Thailand, Indochina and Malaysia.

BirdLife also cited fishermen's nylon gillnets, which trapped and drowned the birds, as another factor in the animals' demise.

BirdLife contributes to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which was released Wednesday with a major update to the world's bird species.

The organization counts more than 10,000 known bird species. Of those, 132 are now extinct and four exist only in captivity.

There are a few bright spots, however. According to BirdLife, the Azores bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina), previously listed as critically endangered, has increased enough in population for it be bumped up to endangered on the Red List.

Wetland destruction is one major reason why birds are threatened around the world, conservationists say.

"Wetlands are fragile environments, easily disturbed or polluted, but essential not only for birds and other biodiversity but also for millions of people around the world as a source of water and food," Stuart Butchart, BirdLife's global research and indicators coordinator, said on the group's website.

Image courtesy of Chris Rose, photographer, and BirdLife International.