Pakistan’s Birds Face Extinction Risk Due to Climate Change

Climate change is one of the most serious challenges facing humanity and the natural world. It has far-reaching consequences for the survival and well-being of many species, including birds. The bird population is also under threat in Pakistan, a country that is already suffering from the effects of climate change, such as floods, droughts, heat waves, and glacial melting.

According to wildlife expert Dr Muhammad Azhar, climate change disrupts the habitats and behaviours of birds, as they are sensitive to temperature, precipitation, and seasonality changes. He warned that if the global temperature rises by 3.5°C by the end of this century, as projected by some scenarios, 600 to 900 bird species will go extinct, most occurring in the tropics.

Pakistan has many bird species, ranging from migratory waterfowl and raptors to resident songbirds and parrots. Some of these birds, such as the sparrow, are common and often overlooked, but they play a vital role in maintaining ecosystem services, such as pollination, seed dispersal, pest control, and human health. However, these birds are rapidly declining in numbers and distribution due to various factors, such as habitat loss, pollution, hunting, and invasive species.

Climate change adds to these pressures by altering bird migration, breeding, and feeding timing and patterns. For instance, some birds may arrive earlier or later than usual at their wintering or breeding grounds, missing the peak availability of food resources or facing increased competition and predation. Some birds may shift their ranges to higher altitudes or latitudes in search of suitable climatic conditions, but they may encounter new threats or lose their ecological niches. Moreover, some birds may not be able to adapt fast enough to the changing environment and may face extinction.

Dr. Azhar cited the example of the northern snowbird, a tropical mountain bird highly vulnerable to climate change due to its restricted range and inability to move to cooler areas. He also mentioned the case of the sparrow, which is already on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species in some regions of the world. He said that no one has yet assessed the status of the sparrow in Pakistan, but it is likely also declining due to climate change and other factors.

Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, the country manager of IUCN Pakistan, echoed Dr Azhar’s concerns and said that climate change is one of the major threats to Pakistan’s bird population. He said climate change has caused changes in bird habitats, disease transmission, egg-laying time, food availability, and population size. He said that highly and moderately vulnerable birds may lose more than half of their current range as they search for new habitats and climates.

He urged the government and civil society to take urgent action to protect Pakistan’s birds from the impacts of climate change. He suggested some possible measures, such as creating and managing protected areas for birds, restoring and enhancing bird habitats, monitoring and conserving bird populations and movements, raising public awareness and education about birds and climate change, and promoting sustainable practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance resilience.

He said protecting Pakistan’s birds from climate change is important for biodiversity conservation, human well-being, and development. He said birds are indicators of environmental health and provide many benefits for people. He said saving Pakistan’s birds from climate change can save us and our future generations.


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