Every four years, the International Union for Conservation of Nature evaluates the status of animal species and determines if they belong on the Red List of Threatened Species, and the latest list has many conservationists worried. The number of bird species on the Red List jumped from 1,253 to 1,331 and the majority of the newly added species are found in the Amazon, specifically in the Brazilian Amazon Basin where the new Forest Code loosens protections on the Amazon. Last year, the Red List contained only 10 bird species found on the Amazon River region, but this year that number is closer to 100. According to conservation group BirdLife International, 13 percent of the world's 10,064 total bird species, were listed as at risk on this year's Red List .
"We have previously underestimated the risk of extinction that many of Amazonia's bird species are facing," said Leon Bennun, BirdLife's director of science, policy and information. "Given the weakening of Brazilian forest law, the situation might be even worse than recent studies have predicted."
Deforestation poses a major threat to many animals that call the Amazon home, including the hoary-throated spinetail and the Rio Branco antbird. Both species were elevated to critically endangered status, just one step away from complete extinction. The tiny hoary-throated spinetail lives exclusively in pockets of forest on the northern edge of the Amazon, near Brazil's border with Guyana. With land there being cleared for cattle ranching and soy production, the spinetails' numbers are expected to plummet by about 80 percent over the coming decade, Antbirds are also threatened by deforestation which, when combined with their long lifespan of about 10 to 12 years, will be difficult for the birds to adapt to. However, since the cause of population decline is manmade, this also gives conservationists hope that the birds can be protected from extinction.
Travelers planning to go on International Expeditions’ Amazon River cruises will learn a great deal about the problems facing many species during informal lectures and excursions with highly trained naturalist guides. Visiting the Amazon region can also be a great way to learn firsthand about the dangers facing the area and how people can help protect the Amazon and all of its creatures.
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