Wed, Feb 05, 2014 - Page 11 News List

Experts denounce panda popularity, urging better Formosan black bear conservation efforts
貓熊熱 專家批台灣黑熊保育受冷落

People prepare to fly a panda-themed hot air balloon at Dapeng Bay in Pingtung County on Jan. 20.
民眾一月二十日在屏東縣的大鵬灣準備放貓熊造型的熱氣球。

Photo: Chen Yen-ting, Liberty Times
照片:自由時報記者陳彥廷

Pandas from China have become superstars in Taiwan, while conservation efforts for the indigenous Formosan black bear, which is on the brink of extinction, receive scant attention. Hwang Mei-hsiu, head of Pingtung University of Science and Technology’s Institute of Wildlife Conservation, says that a limited budget makes it hard for conservation research on Formosan black bears to be done effectively, and research shows that the bears’ survival is being threatened. If more funding could be attained, and with greater public awareness and advocacy, the public would place more importance on Formosan black bear conservation, Hwang says.

Many people worry whether Formosan black bears pose danger to humans, but almost never ask whether pandas hurt people. A national panda craze is surging, which makes someone like Hwang, who has devoted herself to researching Formosan black bears, feel justified to comment on how this bear species typically takes evasive action when it detects the scent of humans, rather than hurting or attacking them. On the other hand, the humans’ destruction of the Formosan black bear’s habitat and poaching severely threaten its survival and show how the public lacks an adequate understanding of Formosan black bear conservation.

At least 2,000 Formosan black bears are needed to maintain a stable population, but current estimates show that there are only between 200 and 600 of the bears in the wild. Hwang says this proves that the survival of the entire species is in critical danger, making the work of conservationists more crucial than ever. Working with a restricted budget, however, forces researchers traveling into mountainous areas to carry their own equipment because they cannot afford to hire porters, and as it is difficult to find research assistants, the work of conservationists is also under plenty of pressure.

TODAY’S WORDS 今日單字

1. on the brink of idiom

瀕臨;在邊緣 (bin1 lin2; zai4 bian1 yuan2)

例: We are on the brink of disaster.

(我們失敗在即。)

2. surge v.

洶湧;澎湃 (xiong1 yong3; peng2 pai4)

例: Her passions surged as she listened to the poem.

(她聆聽詩歌,內心感情澎湃。)

3. poaching n.

偷獵;偷捕 (tou1 lie4; tou1 bu3)

例: Poaching is seriously threatening rhino populations in Africa.

(偷獵行為讓非洲犀牛數量面臨嚴重威脅。)


Huang says that of the 15 Formosan black bears she has caught and released for research purposes, as many as eight of them had severed limbs from being caught in jaw traps, exemplifying the prevalent danger that such traps pose to wildlife in Taiwan. Even the Formosan black bear is suffering from the traps and under immense pressure from being hunted, which is hard to accept, Huang says, adding that even though funding is limited and there is a lack of researchers, she will persevere with her research and hopes that conservation efforts for the species will prove useful in the long run.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)

中國貓熊成為動物明星,本土瀕臨絕種的台灣黑熊保育反而較少受重視,屏東科技大學野生動物保育研究所所長黃美秀即指出,在有限預算下,台灣黑熊保育研究工作推展不易,研究發現黑熊面臨生存危機。若能編列更充裕經費,加強教育宣導,才能讓國人更重視黑熊保育。

很多人都擔心台灣黑熊會傷害人,怎不問貓熊會不會傷人?國內掀起一陣貓熊熱潮,讓長期投入黑熊研究的黃美秀有感而發指出,台灣黑熊嗅到人類的味道,往往就躲避離去,遑論傷害攻擊人類,但人類破壞棲地、非法狩獵等行徑,反而嚴重威脅台灣黑熊生存,顯見國人對黑熊保育認識不足。

黃美秀表示,至少要兩千頭台灣黑熊才能維持族群的穩定,但目前推估台灣僅剩兩百至六百頭黑熊,顯出黑熊族群面臨生存危機,保育研究工作更是重要,然而在預算有限下,深入山區調查研究黑熊的過程,都要自己扛器材,連挑夫都僱不起,且研究助理人力不易尋得,也讓保育研究工作面臨不少壓力。

黃美秀說,曾捕放十五頭台灣黑熊進行調查研究時,竟有高達八隻黑熊都曾因誤觸獸夾而斷手斷腳,顯見國內獸夾危害野生動物的現象普遍存在,連台灣黑熊也在遭殃之列,瀕臨絕種的台灣黑熊面臨狩獵壓力,令人實在看不下去,雖面對經費有限與研究人力短缺壓力,但還是會繼續堅持研究工作,希望對黑熊保育工作推展有所幫助。

(自由時報記者陳信仁)

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