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Why birds are an indicator of the changing face of Earth

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Migratory species are broadly in decline, disrupted by alteration of field and forest habitats, and by hunting in the case of South-east Asia.

Synopsis: Every first and third Sunday of the month, The Straits Times analyses the beat of the changing environment, from biodiversity conservation to climate change.

The East Asian migratory bird flyway is perhaps the most diverse of the world's nine north-south migratory bird flyways, with millions migrating north to south, from freezing latitudes to warmer climates - some shorebirds even fly down to as far as Australia. 

But migratory species are in deep trouble; a recent UN report revealed that nearly half of the world's migratory species are declining in population. Habitat loss has been affecting up to 75 per cent of them. 

The state of birds is one indicator of how humans have altered the environment, largely due to infrastructure developments transforming landscapes. Fragmentation and loss of habitats are key issues for migratory shorebirds as their coastal feeding areas on mud flats along the East Asian seaboard are being reclaimed. 

In this episode of Green Pulse, Thailand-based Philip Round, regional representative of the Wetland Trust and associate professor at the Department of Biology at Mahidol University, and Singapore-based Yong Ding Li, regional coordinator at BirdLife International, join co-host Nirmal Ghosh to talk about what birds are up against. 

Highlights of conversation (click/tap above):

6:06 Why rice growing is making it difficult for birds to thrive

14:58 Hunting happens on a large scale for the pet bird industry in various parts of Southeast Asia  

20:12 How the use of netting to protect crops, particularly aquaculture ponds, becomes accidentally fatal to birds

24:04 Many government agencies in Southeast Asia are inadequately resourced to enforce conservation measures. 

26:02 Bright spots on conservation for migratory birds 

Listen to related podcasts on birds: 

A visit to Sungei Buloh: How Singapore can better host migratory birds: https://omny.fm/shows/green-pulse-1/a-visit-to-sungei-buloh-how-singapore-can-play-a-b

Produced by: Nirmal Ghosh (nirmal@sph.com.sg), Lynda Hong, Fa'izah Sani and Hadyu Rahim

Edited by: Hadyu Rahim

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