Fri, Jul 13, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Environmentalists want rehabilitation for crane

POLITICAL PRISONER A rare red-crowned crane dubbed `Dan Dan' is being kept in a tiny cage at the Taipei City Zoo because officials won't negotiate its return to China

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Environmental activists yesterday urged the Taipei City Government to rehabilitate an endangered crane, as political problems have prevented the bird from being returned to its native habitat in China.

The red-crowned crane, dubbed "Dan Dan" (丹丹), was injured at Hsinchu Air Force Base in September 2004 and taken to the Taipei City Zoo for treatment, where it has remained since.

Liu Hsin-bai (劉新白), director-general of the Wild Bird Society of Taipei, said rehabilitating and releasing the bird in Taipei City would be the best solution.

He urged the city government's Department of Economic Development to provide assistance.

"Rehabilitation and release is the best option for the crane. It would be easier to spend six months to a year building up the bird's muscles and helping it to learn to fly again in Taipei than negotiating the issue with China," Liu said yesterday at Taipei City Hall.

Liu suggested that the department build a rehabilitation facility for the bird in Guandu Nature Park or on other municipal land.

But Lee Shih-cheng (李世正), a division chief of the department, said his agency lacked the funds for such a project.

"It isn't feasible to rehabilitate the crane in Taipei because we lack funds. There's also the risk that the bird could be injured again in the process. We still prefer the option of sending the bird to China to be released," Lee said.

However, the Council of Agriculture said it would be difficult for the government to negotiate the bird's return because it is on the protected list of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

As a result, Beijing's consent would be required before the bird could be sent to China.

Liu urged the department not to shirk its responsibility to ensure the crane's release and said the bird could be placed in danger if it was returned to China unrehabilitated.

"Funds are not an issue because many civic groups and city residents have already phoned in to say they want to make donations toward the bird's rehabilitation," Liu said.

Chang Chi-hua (張志華), director of the zoo's veterinarian's office, said Dan Dan was kept in an 8m-by-6.5m-by-3.2m cage, which made it difficult for the bird to spread its wings.

"The zoo also hopes that Dan Dan can be returned to the wild, but if none of the release plans pan out, we will continue to take care of the bird," he said.

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