According to a new study, there are few international protections in place for migratory birds, which makes them vulnerable when they try to breed, feed, and rest during their strenuous journeys across the world.
Researchers found that migratory birds are exposed to multiple threats because countries often fail to properly coordinate and manage conservationist actions on their territories. According to one of the studies, 90 percent of migratory birds do not benefit from proper protections.
Study investigators used maps with protected areas for migratory birds across the world and learned that conservationist efforts are especially weak in India, South America, Africa, and China.
This is why migratory birds are sometimes well protected in some countries or parts of those countries, while they are exposed to threats in other places along their migratory route.
The study involved nearly 1,500 species of migratory birds on five continents. Of those birds, slightly over 1,300 had poor protection in at least one area in their trip. More than a dozen lacked any protection when trying to breed along their route.
The study also revealed that of 8,200 locations that were deemed significant in the birds’ migratory pathways, 22 percent have full protection, while 41 percent have some gaps where protected areas do not overlap.
Claire Runge, lead author of the study and researcher with the University of Queensland, said that more than 50 percent of migratory birds saw their populations dwindle in the last three decades. Runge explained that the situation was the result of poor coordination in the process of granting protections and weak protection of ranges where the birds stop to rest and feed.
Runge also explained that a migratory bird needs many locations to refuel and breed during its journey, so granting protection only to some of these locations is not enough. The chain needs to not be broken at any link, the researcher added.
James Watson, co-author of the study, thinks that providing migratory birds with proper protection is a challenging task because their routes go across land and sea and some of the species travel thousands of miles during their lifetime. For instance, Arctic terns have an unusual long annual migration route. The slender seabirds can travel the distance to the moon and back thrice before dying.
Study authors recommend governments to increase funding and expand current protected areas for the birds. Scientists believe that better coordination could be achieved through international treaties. They underscored that while some countries like Germany provide protections to up to 98 percent of migratory bird species, other countries can provide a merely 13 percent.
Image Source: Pixabay
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