Australia’s Threatened Species List got longer

Wednesday, 7 February 2024

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Australia’s Threatened Species List just got longer

Eight threatened shorebirds added

Eight species of migratory shorebirds which regularly visit Australia were added to the Federal Government’s List of Threatened Species recently, reflecting substantial declines in their populations. Long-term surveys conducted by the Australasian Wader Studies Group (a special interest group of BirdLife Australia) were crucial in the birds’ inclusion on the list.

It has long been known that migratory shorebirds are under pressure from several threats right along the length of the East Asian–Australasian Flyway, and by far and away the most pressing of these is the loss of their coastal habitats, especially the intertidal mudflats that they rely on for foraging, and the adjacent hinterlands which are used for roosting.

Whether situated along their migratory route or in their overwintering sites, these pressures have combined to send the populations of many species of shorebirds that visit Australia into a steep decline in recent decades. These alarming declines have been shown clearly by wader surveys that have been conducted across Australia by volunteers from the Australasian Wader Studies Group since the early 1980s. Falls in the numbers of birds visiting Australia reflect declines in their overall world populations.

Such population declines have already been acknowledged for a few species; the Eastern Curlew, for example, was included on the Australian threatened species list several years ago.

Now, the Federal Government has recognised the dire situation of eight more species of migratory shorebirds by adding them to the burgeoning list of threatened species in Australia.

The species added to this unenviable list were:

  • Black-tailed Godwit (Endangered)
  • Common Greenshank (Endangered)
  • Ruddy Turnstone (Vulnerable)
  • Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Vulnerable)
  • Latham’s Snipe (Vulnerable)
  • Asian Dowitcher (Vulnerable)
  • Grey Plover (Vulnerable)
  • Terek Sandpiper (Vulnerable)

In addition, the Alaskan Bar-tailed Godwit had its conservation ‘uplisted’ to Endangered.

Meanwhile, the Siberian Bar-tailed Godwit, Great Knot and Red Knot have all been ‘downlisted’.