Fri, May 27, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Plan to deal with invasive ibises left to experts: council

Staff writer, with CNA

Solutions to an ecological disaster caused by introduced bird species is to be discussed by experts, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday.

The first step is to get the opinions of experts and academics, who are to meet in Taipei today to discuss the growing number African sacred ibises in Taiwan and their impact on the nation’s ecology, the council said.

Under the auspices of the council and the Chinese Wild Bird Federation, specialists in ecological balance and wild birds will discuss how best to deal with the problem, Forestry Bureau division head Kuan Li-hao (管立豪) said.

Kuan said the ibis, which is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, was first introduced to Taiwan more than 30 years ago by a private zoo.

In 1984, some ibises were spotted in a wetland, which indicated that they were breeding in the wild, Kuan said, adding that it is likely the birds escaped from the zoo in Hsinchu County during a typhoon.

That year, the number of African sacred ibises in Taiwan was in single digits, but now there are about 1,100 in the wetlands stretching from northeast Taiwan to the west coast, Kuan said.

The birds are also seen at wastewater treatment plants, on manure heaps and in garbage dumps, Kuan said.

The omnivorous African sacred ibis compete with the indigenous little egret and cattle egret for food and breeding grounds, he said, adding that the ibis might gradually drive out other bird species in rural areas.

The council has been trying to control the ibis population by removing eggs and destroying nests, but has had limited success, Kuan said.

The ibis has been listed by the EU as one of 100 invasive species, Kuan said.

In Africa, the bird feeds on the eggs and nestlings of wild birds that breed in groups, while in France, it eats the eggs and fledglings of terns and cattle egrets, he said.

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