Development & illegal poaching threatening spoonbills’ existence in Hainan
The number of black-faced spoonbills – an endangered species – found locally has fallen by 11percent in the past year, the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society found.
In its latest survey, the society counted 351 of the large wading birds – which are found only in East Asia – down from 393 last year. The survey was done from January 11 to 13, with the help of more than 100 volunteers.
The total number of black- faced spoonbills rose by 1.2 percent to an estimated 2,725 globally. Society researchers said the rise in the figure this year is not significant and the total population remains steady.
"Unlike Hong Kong, there is a continuing increase in both the number and proportion to the global population of spoonbills in Taiwan, which is due to their efforts in wetland conservation," society research manager Yu Yat-tung said.
He said it is uncertain why numbers in Hong Kong and Shenzhen have fallen for three consecutive years, although in coastal areas of the mainland they increased 10.7 percent, to 363 birds this year.
Yu said the biggest threat to the survival of spoonbills comes from the deterioration and destruction of their habitat.
The spoonbill feeds on fish and shrimps in shallow water, mainly in coastal areas.
Yu said development and illegal poaching are threatening the bird's existence in South Korea, Macau, Fujian, Zhejiang and Hainan. Five of the birds, for example, were confiscated from a restaurant in northern Vietnam in December 2010, he said.
"The conservation of black- faced spoonbills has a long way to go since the Shenzhen Bay area, north of Hong Kong, is undergoing massive development."
The bird, with a body length of 75 to 80 centimeters as an adult, has a black beak while the rest of its body is white.
In Hong Kong, they can usually be found in the Mai Po Nature Reserve, Lok Ma Chau and Nam Sang Wai in Yuen Long. Some have also been sighted in Tai Po and Cheung Chau.
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