Sun, Jul 03, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Team of scientists wraps up week-long Siberia trip

Staff writer, with CNA

A member of Taiwan’s first science expedition to Siberia holds up a fossilized piece of ivory in an undated picture.

Photo: CNA, provided by Chang Po-chun

A five-person Taiwanese team on Thursday concluded a week-long scientific expedition to northeastern Siberia, bringing back three woolly mammoth tusks and one reindeer skull.

The team, led by Liao Jen-hui (廖仁慧), executive director of the Taiwan Ecological Engineering Development Foundation (TEEDF), arrived in Yakutsk, the capital city of Russia’s Sakha Republic, on Monday last week.

The area they explored was around Chokurdakh, a town of about 2,300 residents on the west bank of the Indigirka River 3,200km northeast of Vladivostok.

The main goal of the team, which included two bird experts and a documentary director, was to observe the environment in which the Siberian crane and other birds live, collect biological specimens and film a documentary.

Ding Tzung-su (丁宗蘇), a bird expert and associate professor of forestry and resource conservation at National Taiwan University, collected three mammoth tusks, and Huang Kuang-ying (黃光瀛), a black-faced spoonbill expert and official at Taijiang National Park, collected about 20 insect specimens.

Ding and Huang also inspected the nests of 10 kinds of birds, including the arctic willow warbler, peregrine falcon, Siberian crane and Vega gull.

TEEDF deputy executive director Chiu Ming-yuan (邱銘源) found a reindeer skull and Chiu and Liao collected about 30 kinds of tundra plants and 14 kinds of bryophyte.

They also took photographs and recorded video footage of the tundra flora.

The team returned to Chodurdakh on Thursday and plan to return to Taiwan on Friday, it said.

Liao and Innokenty Okhlopkov, a professor at the Yakut Scientific Center of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, signed a memorandum of understanding to establish interaction and cooperation on bird studies and habitat conservation in Yakutsk.

The decision to go on the expedition was made after a Siberian crane that apparently got lost arrived at a wetland in New Taipei City on Dec. 13, 2014.

The presence of the bird, which was two-years-old and was nicknamed “Jinshan little white crane,” drew the attention of bird watchers and photographers, and the news found its way to Russia.

To better understand the Siberian crane and film a documentary about it, the foundation contacted the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, leading to the expedition, which the embarked on after six months of planning.

It is estimated that there are less than 4,000 of the critically endangered Siberian crane in the world.

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