Monday, 13 July 2015

What's Up With Some Of Our Friends In The Far East?

I have just read in British Birds July 2015, Vol. 108, 365 - 440 about the plight of the Yellow-breasted Bunting. In fact the article in BB gave it the title 'Is Yellow-breasted Bunting the next Passenger Pigeon?'

Apparently the Yellow-breasted Bunting, which was formerly Eurasia's most abundant species, has declined by 90% and retracted its range by 5,000 km since 1980! What? And the species has all but disappeared from eastern Europe, European Russia, large parts of western and central Siberia and Japan!

An aspect of the bird's ecology has been exploited and caused its decline. During migration and on the wintering grounds, Yellow-breasted Buntings gather in massive flocks at evening roosts making them very easy to trap in large numbers with nets for food.

Following initial declines of the species, hunting was banned in China in 1997. However, millions of Yellow-breasted Buntings were still being killed for food and sold on the black market as late as 2013. Consumption of these and other songbirds has increased as a result of economic growth and prosperity in east Asia. There was one estimate from 2001 of one million Yellow-breasted Buntings being eaten in China's Guangdong province alone!

As the article stated, to reverse these declines people need to be better educated of the consequences of eating these birds and indeed wildlife in general. It also goes on to say that an improved and more efficient reporting system is required for law enforcement.

Let's hope this works and the fortunes of this cracking bird can be reversed before it is too late!

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