The number of black kites seen in Taiwan has increased by 200 to 626 last year, a Raptor Research Group of Taiwan survey showed, adding that the increase might be the result of efforts to promote eco-friendly farming.
Sponsored by the Forestry Bureau, the Taipei-based group worked with bird-watchers to survey 16 locations and found that the number of birds increased from 359 in 2014 to 426 in 2015 and 626 last year. The black kite is an endangered species.
Taipei Feitsui Reservoir in northern Taiwan recorded the highest number of black kites at 109, followed by 107 in Pintung’s Sandimen Township (三地門), bir-watchers said.
Researcher Lin Hui-shan (林惠珊), who headed the survey, said that when the group started the survey three years ago, they found that many black kites died from eating other smaller birds that had died from eating crops sprayed with pesticides.
Highly toxic carbofuran has been widely used by farmers to keep birds from eating their crops, such as rice and fruit. The deaths of many birds have been linked to carbofuran.
However, over the past three years the group has urged farmers not to use pesticides to kill birds, Lin said.
The government’s campaign to promote environmentally friendly farming in recent years has helped create better conditions for black kites, Lin said.
Prior to 2013 there were fewer than 300 black kites in Taiwan according to birdwatchers’ data, Lin said.
During the Japanese colonial era, estimates put the number of black kites in Taiwan, at more than 5,000, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology Institute of Wildlife Conservation professor Sun Yuan-hsun (孫元勳) said.
The number of black kites had been declining since pesticides were introduced in 1961, Sun said.