Tainan’s conservation efforts are paying off, with the city government yesterday reporting that 1,400 black-faced spoonbills — a quarter of the species’ global population — are wintering in the area this year.
The growing number of spoonbills is evidence that humanity can exist in harmony with nature, Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) said in a news release, adding that the city would continue to promote the concept of environmentalism among residents.
Taiwan’s first spoonbill this season arrived at the Cigu Black-faced Spoonbill Conservation Area in September, with the north winds bringing in many more from habitats as far as 2,000km away, Tainan Ecological Conservation Institute director Chiu Jen-wu (邱仁武) said.
Photo courtesy of the Chiayi County Agriculture Department via CNA
The endangered species typically stays in Taiwan for eight months before moving on, he said.
Huang has allocated NT$380 million (US$12.1 million) — including central government subsidies — to fight coastline erosion and protect coastal natural habitats since the first full year of his tenure in 2019.
Shoals of the Cigu lagoon formerly retreated 50m from the sea each year, but erosion has slowed since 2016 when the area reported a retreat of 6m.
Reclaimed land in Beimen District (北門), the “Golden Coast” in South District (南區) and other areas under severe coastal erosion threat have reported that the pace of shore loss has stabilized in recent years.
Chiayi County Agriculture Department also reported an increase in spoonbill sightings amid a joint public-private initiative to feed the birds by diverting food-rich waters from local ponds to the wetlands off Budai Township (布袋).
The Kaohsiung Wild Bird Society’s survey of the wetlands since the beginning of last month found a significant increase in the spoonbill population compared with the same period last year, a department official said.
The main reason behind the growth is the initiative to feed the Budai Salt Pan Wetlands (布袋五鹽田) with a steady supply of water, fish and shellfish for the birds, said Shui Hui-ling (石蕙菱), the department’s animal science and conservation head.
Wildlife photographer Su Chia-hung (蘇家弘) tallied about 1,200 spoonbills in the Budai Salt Pan Wetlands this year, which is more than the seasonal average of 945 birds recorded by the Endemic Species Research Institute from 2016 to 2018, he said.
People visiting the wetlands should wear clothes that blend in with the surroundings and keep quiet to avoid spooking the birds, the Chiayi County Forest District Office said.
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