Sat, Mar 14, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Jhiben Wetlands severely damaged, birdwatchers say

NO SANCTUARY:The birdwatchers said that the vital habitat for migratory birds was damaged by excavation equipment and birds had deserted the area

Staff writer, with CNA

The Jhiben Wetlands (知本溼地) in Taitung, a major habitat for endangered migratory birds, appears to have been severely damaged by excavation equipment, experienced birdwatcher Peng Ching-chien (彭靖堅) said on Wednesday.

Migratory birds have deserted the area, while fish and shrimp have died in the wetlands after parts of it were drained by what appeared to be heavy machinery, Peng said, adding that he noticed the destruction during a visit to the wetlands on Feb. 22.

Earthen embankments between the wetlands and the sea have been leveled, causing the drainage of some areas, said Peng, who has been engaged in birdwatching for more than 20 years.

Other birdwatchers said that they found tracks apparently left by excavators and jeeps across the wetlands, which are recognized by BirdLife International as a vital bird habitat.

The Taitung County Wild Bird Association has since urged prosecutors to investigate the matter.

Meanwhile, the Taitung County Government said it has assigned work crews to rebuild the embankments with earth and sand.

The impact on the local ecology has not yet been determined, the city government said, adding that it is monitoring the situation.

The Jhiben Wetlands are home to a wide variety of endangered bird species, including the black-faced spoonbill, greater white-fronted goose, bean goose and Oriental stork.

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