BirdLife International announced today, in the 2010 IUCN Red List update for birds, the official extinction of the Alaotra Grebe, a bird endemic to Madagascar no seen for the last 25 years.
The Alaotra Grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus) was a freshwater diving bird found only on Lake Alaotra and surrounding lakes in Madagascar. Restricted to a tiny area, the species population declined rapidly after a species of carnivorous fish, the snakehead murrell (Channa striata) was introduced to the lakes that were its habitat. Additionally, the use of nylon gill-nets by fisherman, which caught and drowned the birds, drove this species into extinction.
The snakehead fish
"No hope now remains for this species. It is another example of how human actions can have unforeseen consequences",
said Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife International's Director of Science, Policy and Information.
"Invasive alien species have caused extinctions around the globe and remain one of the major threats to birds and other biodiversity."
The Aloatra Grebe had very small wings and was not able to fly long distances which impaired its propagation. Instead, it lived a sedentary life around the few lakes that were its original environment.
Photo by: Ballista
Artistic reconstruction of a Dodo reflecting new research at Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
Another flightless bird, the dodo (Raphus cucullatus), endemic to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, became extinct since the mid-to-late 17th century. The dodo was a big bird. It stood about a meter tall and weighed about 20 kilograms. Because of its very limited or null flying ability, it nested on the ground, living on easily available ripe fruit. This bird, the Dodo, is commonly used as the archetype of an extinct species because its extinction occurred during recorded human history and was directly attributable to human activity.