Puna Grebe new.s Bad news on the Puna Grebe Podiceps taczanowskii, endemic to Lake Junin in Peru and one of the world's most threatened birds. Once abundant, the population was estimated to have dropped to 200-300 individuals in 1987, but terrorist activity in the area has prevented any conservation action being taken. This year, however, two Peruvian ornithologists, Thomas Valqui and Javier Barrio, visited the site on behalf of die ICBP. Although unable to make a population estimate on their brief visit, Valqui and Barrio found two (and possibly three) dead Puna Grebes along a 2-km stretch of shore in just three days, all of which were thought to have died in the past 10-15 days. Discussions with a local fisherman revealed that this death toll was not unusual. Clearly, if this is the case, the species will not long survive. The chief cause of the species' decline is believed to be pollution. The 14,000-ha lake is extremely polluted by a nearby mine, and dead plants, fish and birds are found frequently. Large fluctuations in the water level, due to a hydroelectric station that supplies the mine, are also a problem. In addition, the area is currently experiencing an exceptionally dry period, which is adversely affecting the water levels. With the political situation in the area now more stable, further work is being carried out to clarify the precise problems and what needs to be done to save the species.

Issue 10
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