Extinction threat for SA secretary bird
Johannesburg - The snake-hunting secretary bird that graces South Africa's national coat of arms as a symbol of strength and vigilance faces extinction, The Star reported on Monday.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature released data relating to its 2011 Red List for Birds, and the snake-hunting secretary bird was added to the list of animals facing extinction.
Another South African bird is even worse off.
The hooded vulture is now classified as endangered, meaning it has experienced a massive population decline and faces a "very high risk of extinction in the wild".
The secretary bird, famous for appearing on the national coat of arms of two countries, SA and Sudan, is marked as vulnerable.
Just two years ago, both birds were categorised on the Red List as being of "least concern".
A large distribution range across most of Africa, it was thought, protected them from serious population decline.
"The hooded vulture in the past was a common sight in many African towns, but now they have suffered a decline of 50% over the last three generations," said senior conservation adviser at the National Zoological Gardens of SA, Mike Jordan.
Both birds had experienced population declines because of hunting, poisoning and habitat loss.
The University of the Witwatersrand plans to conduct a detailed study of the secretary bird, the report said.