Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species are animal species which have a high EDGE score, a metric combining endangered conservation status with distinctiveness of taxon. Distinctive species have few closely related species, and EDGE species are often the only surviving member of their genus or even higher taxonomic rank. The extinction of such species would therefore represent a disproportionate loss of unique evolutionary history, biodiversity and potential for future evolution.
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has launched a global conservation initiative, the EDGE of Existence Programme to raise awareness and funds for the conservation of these species.
Fifteen Indian bird species are part of a list of avians which are evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Yale University has come out with a study of 100 Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species worldwide.
The study says Bengal Florican, Lesser Florican, Great Indian Bustard, Sociable Lapwing and Jerdon’s Courser are birds that are under threat due to the destruction of their habitat of grasslands and scrub forests. The survival of Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Siberian Crane and White-bellied Heron greatly depend on the existence of their wetland habitat.
Forest Owlet’s survival is impossible if its habitat of deciduous forests in central India is destroyed, the study said. Officials of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), which works on the conservation of 12 of these threatened birds, said these species were threatened by human factors such as uncontrolled urbanisation, unsustainable industrialisation and rampant use of chemicals in agriculture.
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