Australian migratory shorebird species face extinction: report

CANBERRA, Jan. 14 (PNA/Xinhua) — A number of Australian migratory shorebird species could become extinct following the destruction of tidal flats in east Asia, according to a report released by the University of Queensland on Wednesday.

The birds, which migrate from Arctic Siberia each summer, land for important refueling missions in Asian countries such as China and South Korea on their way to Australian shores.

However, research from the University of Queensland has suggested that 65 percent of all tidal flats in east Asia have been destroyed for urbanization and farming as well as pollution. As such, the millions of birds landing on the tidal flats each year will be unable to feed during their 40,000-kilometer round trip.

According to Nick Murray, a researcher for the report, some species could face extinction as a result.

“We found that about 65 percent of those habitats have disappeared,” Murray told The ABC on Wednesday. “What that means for migratory shorebirds is there have been large population declines because they no longer have a fuel stop on their migration.”

Species such as the curlew sandpiper and the eastern curlew breed are most at risk, with their population dropping by 70 percent over the last 20 years, according to research from the National Environmental Research Program.

Meanwhile, the total number of shorebirds landing in New South Wales has decreased by more than two-thirds, according to the Hunter Bird Observers Club.

This could lead to action from the Australian government.

“Across Australia, we are seeing declines in several species of migratory shorebirds,” Murray continued. “In fact, the federal government is assessing two of these species to be listed on our national environmental legislation as ‘endangered’.”

“The curlew sandpiper and eastern curlew are migratory shorebirds that come to Australia in our summer and as they migrate back to Asia, they need to rest and refuel,” he said. “The decline that we have discovered means they have nowhere to stop and get the energy they need to continue the journey back to their breeding sites.” (PNA/Xinhua)