Fri, Aug 11, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Pheasant-tailed jacanas thrive on eco-friendly Tainan water chestnut farms

By Yang Chin-cheng and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A male pheasant-tailed jacana sits on its eggs in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of the Guantian Jacana Sanctuary

The implementation of environmentally friendly agricultural practices in Tainan has caused the population of pheasant-tailed jacana in the area to increase by more than 500 adult birds over the past three years, Guantian Jacana Sanctuary official Lee Wen-chen (李文珍) said on Wednesday.

Managed by the Wild Bird Society of Tainan, the sanctuary in Guantian District (官田) has been spearheading the promotion of eco-friendly farming in the area’s water chestnut fields, Lee said.

With the Forestry Bureau and Tainan City Government’s assistance, the society convinced 15 landowners to cultivate water chestnuts without using pesticides or chemical fertilizers, making the fields habitable for jacanas, she said.

Research has shown that jacanas have a high reproductive rate as long as they have a suitable habitat for nesting, such as organically farmed water chestnut fields, she said.

Late last month, the sanctuary and the Endemic Species Research Institute found 857 adult jacanas in Tainan, an estimated population increase of 20 percent compared with last year, Lee said.

Guantian’s success has played a critical role in the recovery of the jacana population in Tainan, Lee said, adding that jacanas in the district comprised 77 percent of the total population in the city.

More than 80 percent of adult jacanas were found to have been living in water chesnut fields, demonstrating the importance of the fields, she said.

All jacana eggs and 95 percent of hatchlings, except those found in the sanctuary, were in nests built in the fields, Lee added.

The study found 108 adult jacanas laid 435 eggs in 124 nests. Of these, it found that 159 had hatched, with 87 surviving juvenile birds and 34 surviving immature birds that are independent, Lee said.

“Recovering water chestnut fields’ function as wetlands are invaluable to the jacana’s survival as a species,” she said.

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