A total of 2,272 black-faced spoonbills are wintering in Chiayi County, Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung — the highest number in history, Taijiang National Park (台江國家公園) officials said yesterday.
Park officials said it was the first time that Tainan-based bird watchers had counted more than 2,000 of the endangered birds in the nation.
More than 600 of the black-faced spoonbills were spotted in Tainan’s Annan District (安南), while others were observed in the Cigu Black-Faced Spoonbill Conservation Zone (七股黑琵保護區) and the Sihcao Wetland Wildlife Refuge (四草野生動物保護區) in Greater Tainan. Still more of the birds were seen in the wetlands of Budai Township (布袋), the Aogu Wetlands (鰲鼓溼地) and the mouth of the Pachang Creek (八掌溪) — all in Chiayi County — as well as in Kaohsiung’s Cieding (茄萣) and Yongan (永安) districts.
Not all of the black-faced spoonbills counted are expected to stay in the south of the country, as some might fly further south to the Philippines, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam and Indonesia, park officials said.
The park attributed this year’s spoonbill surge to conservation efforts, particularly those carried out in the bird’s breeding grounds along the border between South Korea and North Korea, as well as in wintering areas in Taiwan.
With the Taiwan count exceeding 2,000, some birdwatchers now expect the worldwide count to break 3,000 next month, when the annual global census of the bird’s population is taken.
Taijiang National Park, on Tainan’s southwestern coast, boasts a wide range of wetland environments, including estuary sandbars, and abandoned salt farms and fish farms, making it a major base for migratory birds.
Meanwhile, a survey on wild animals on the northern coast between Tamsui (淡水) and Jinshan (金山) districts in New Taipei City has found that since farming activities in the villages skirting Yangmingshan National Park has declined and human consumption of wild animals decreased, a lot of idle farmland has seen second-growth forestry that has brought about the reappearance of rare wild animals.
The Council of Agriculture’s Forestry Research Institute said the survey found there are many wild animals in the second-growth forests and that the diversity is almost the same as that in the forest in the national park, which has long been under strict protection.
The survey recorded ferret badgers, masked palm civets, civet cats, pangolins, Formosan rock monkeys, Reeves’ muntjac and boars.
It also found that the appearance rates of several animals in the second-growth forests are higher than those of the natural forest just 2km away, with double the number of masked palm civets and five times as many ferret badgers reported. Civet cats have even been seen on the outskirts of mountain villages.
The institute linked the reappearance of wildlife to diminished farming and fewer people eating the local fauna. It said that more than 20 years ago, there was a lot of farming in the villages near the park and that many residents regarded wild animals as either pests or food.
However, over the past decade, much of the farmland has been left fallow, making the area a paradise for wildlife again.
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