Four bird species from the UK are joining the Red List for the risk of extinction. Atlantic puffins, European Turtle Doves, Slavonian grebes and pochards are now considered to be “near threatened”, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Martin Harper, conservation director with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), said the global threat of extinction has reached the region. Also, another 14 animal species from the UK are labeled as “near threatened”.

“The erosion of the UK’s wildlife is staggering and this is reinforced when you talk about puffin and turtle dove now facing the same level of extinction threat as African elephants and lions, and being more endangered than the humpback whale,” Harper said, according to BBC UK.

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Pollution and the decline of food sources are the main causes of the endangered ecosystem of the birds, ecologists say. Oil spills, changes on the sea temperature and hunting are also a main threat for the survival of these species, according to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

The report says that although the Atlantic puffin population is huge, as millions of them live on these regions, fewer young birds are surviving to the conditions as the years pass by.

Dr Richard Gregory, the RSPB’s head of species monitoring, said that “the red listing is driven by the declines in Europe, where most of the population is, particularly in Iceland and Norway,” according to the Guardian.

Numbers of the Atlantic puffin are decreasing in countries such as Norway, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands, regions that gather the 80 percent of the species European population.

The species have been listed as “vulnerable to extinction”, behind two other higher categories such as “critically endangered” and “endangered”.

When it comes to the turtle dove numbers, the decline reaches 30 percent for the past 16 years, especially high in the UK —more than nine of every ten birds are gone since the 1970’s, according to Birdlife.

Moreover, species with a migratory behavior that fly over the Mediterranean sea, reaching to Malta, get into a dangerous zone that has a bird hunting tradition. In fact, the country just rejected a ban on hunting birds practices.

Researchers have a hard time to explain the decay of the population of Slavonian grebes, although they blame the reduction in successful breeding pairs.

What’s clear to conservationists is that hunting and the destruction of their ecosystems, mostly by agricultural practices, are critical activities that threaten this species, as any other animals of the region.

“We are researching a number of different reasons why, including changes in agricultural practice across Europe, which means a struggle to find food and nesting sites,” said Grahame Madge, an Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) spokesman, according to The Guardian.

Experts hope that these announcements will do as wake-up calls for people to understand the severity of the issue, as some of these species are part of the tradition and image of the UK and Europe. Citizens have the responsibility of taking care of their environment.

Source: BBC UK