The nation has taken a successful step in tracking the migration route of the gray-faced buzzard eagle, or Butastur indicus, paving the way for better conservation measures for the rare migratory bird, a Forestry Bureau official said.
Conservation Division Director Kuan Li-hao (管立豪) said scientists put satellite transmitters on three gray-faced buzzard eagles as they passed through Taiwan this fall. After being released on Oct. 12 in Kenting (墾丁), the birds reached the Philippines the next day.
Kuan said it was the first time that the migratory movements of the species had been recorded anywhere in the world.
Two of the three birds, nicknamed Cape No. 2 and Cape No. 3, are on Luzon Island, while Cape No. 1 headed further south in the Philippines, Kuan said.
The satellite transmitters on the birds send signals to the research group, which will continue to record the birds’ movements next spring during their migration northward.
Because of budget limitations, the research group could only implant transmitters on three birds.
“But thanks to the research, Taiwan may have the opportunity to cooperate with countries in Southeast Asia, such as the Philippines, to enhance conservation” of this rare species, Kuan said.
The buzzard eagle is listed as protected in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora.
Normally, 15,000 to 35,000 of the birds pass over Taiwan every year in the spring and autumn, the Forestry Bureau said. This year, however, an estimated 42,000 gray-faced buzzard eagles had crossed over Taiwan by the end of last month — the highest number since the bureau began counting the migration in 1989.
Kuan attributed the higher numbers on the weather, which was relatively stable between Oct. 8 and Oct. 20 compared with previous years.
He said forest district offices had also worked to prevent hunters from killing the birds.
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