The blue macaw parrot portrayed in the animated children’s favourite Rio has been officially classified as ‘extinct in the wild’.
The Spix’s macaw Brazilian parrot, which was fictionalised as Blu, is now one of eight species that have been added to a list of confirmed or highly likely extinctions.
Also on the list are the glaucous macaw and Pernambuco pygmy-owl — their declines primarily driven by deforestation on the South American continent.
The researchers said these dwindling losses shone a dark light on the extinction crisis, bringing the number of confirmed or likely bird extinctions up to 187 since 1,500, ABC News reports.
Co-author of the report, Stuart Butchart, said:
The last known individual [Spix’s macaw] in the wild disappeared in 2001, but searches have been ongoing since then and it is only now that we feel confident enough to classify it as extinct in the wild.
The report into which birds have gone extinct was conducted by BirdLife International, the avian authority for the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.
The latest report used new approaches to analyse data on birds classed as critically endangered — the highest possible threat category.
Determining whether a species is extinct, is a lengthy, complex process, involving ‘exhaustive’ surveys.
The authors assessed 51 critically endangered species over eight years.
They recommend three species formerly considered ‘critically endangered (possibly Extinct)’ should now be reclassified as ‘extinct’, while the Spix’s macaw should be treated as ‘extinct in the wild’.
Historically, 90 per cent of extinctions were on islands driven by the negative impacts of invasive species — such as cats or rats — as well as unsustainable hunting, said Mr Butchart.
The latest report however noted five of the eight newly identified extinctions took place on the South American continent, four of them in Brazil. Researchers said this reflected the devastating effects of the high rate of deforestation in that part of the world.
People think of extinctions and think of the dodo but our analysis shows that extinctions are continuing and accelerating today. Historically 90% of bird extinctions have been small populations on remote islands. Our evidence shows there is a growing wave of extinctions on continents, resulting from habitat loss and degradation driven by unsustainable agriculture and logging in particular.
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