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  Yahoo News 9 Oct 07
Conservationists work to save sea bird

By Annie Huang, Associated Press Writer

Yahoo News 21 Sep 07
Chinese seabird on verge of extinction
By Alexa Olesen, Associated Press

The Chinese crested tern, a rare sea bird whose eggs are prized by some as a delicacy, is likely to be extinct in five years if authorities do not step up protection efforts, a conservation group said Friday.

The bird looks set to be the latest ecological victim of China's rapid 30-year economic expansion and industrialization, which has raised the standard of living for hundreds of millions of Chinese but ravaged the environment.

Late last year, scientists declared that a rare Chinese river dolphin was effectively extinct after conducting a fruitless six-week search for the creature in its Yangtze River habitat.

A survey by a team of Chinese experts conducted over recent successive breeding seasons found that the number of crested terns had fallen to 50 birds, about half the population found three years ago, said a statement from BirdLife International, a conservation group based in Cambridge, England.

"Without urgent action conservationists have given the bird less than five years before disappearing completely from its two remaining breeding areas," the statement said.

It quoted head of the Chinese survey team Chen Shuihua as saying the bird was "on the verge of extinction."

The biggest threat to the birds was the collection of eggs by local fisherman in the bird's breeding areas, the Jiushan islands and Matsu island off China's east coast, the statement quoted Chen, a researcher from the Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, as saying.

The tern eggs, which locals believe are more nutritious than poultry eggs, were found at sidewalk snack booths in the Chinese coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian for about $5 each and also in markets in Matsu, which is controlled by Taiwan, the statement said.

Authorities need to stop the collection and sale of the eggs, step up monitoring of the birds and do more to protect their breeding habitats, it said.

The baiji, or white flag dolphin, survived for millions of years but was declared extinct in December. Around 400 baiji were believed to be living in the Yangtze in the early 1980s, but their survival was made impossible by dramatic increases in ship traffic, overfishing and the degradation of their habitat.

Yahoo News 9 Oct 07
Conservationists work to save sea bird

By Annie Huang, Associated Press Writer

Taiwanese and mainland Chinese conservationists are joining hands to save an endangered sea bird from extinction by urging fishermen to stop collecting and eating the birds' eggs, a Taiwanese birdwatcher said Monday.

The Chinese crested tern white with a black-and-white crest migrates to eastern Chinese coasts between May and September, Taiwanese conservationists say. It's thought the birds fly there to escape the heat in South Asia, although they have not been seen outside of China or Taiwan.

The sea bird was spotted for the first time in 2000 on the Taiwan-controlled Matsu island just 0.6 miles from China's southeastern coast. Matsu authorities have since stepped up monitoring the bird and set aside several locations in the island group as sanctuaries.

Taiwanese have stopped eating sea birds' eggs in recent years, but Chinese fishermen often sneak onto Matsu to collect the eggs, which are prized as a delicacy in parts of China, said Chang Shou-hua, head of the Matsu Birdwatching Society.

"Sea birds' eggs are smelly and infected with parasites, and when fishermen collect the eggs in the grass they disrupt the birds' breeding habitats," Chang said.

A Chinese survey conducted over recent successive breeding seasons found that the number of crested terns had fallen to 50 birds, about half the population found three years ago, according to Birdlife International, a conservation group based in Cambridge, England. The group warns that the crested tern could become extinct in five years if protection efforts are not stepped up.

Taiwanese birders recently sought to collaborate with mainland conservationists after learning the bird has appeared along the coasts of China's Zhejiang and Fujian Provinces, said Chang.

A group of conservationists from Jiushan islands off east China visited the Matsu sanctuary two months ago and agreed to strive for the bird's preservation, first by seeking legislation to bar fishermen from collecting the sea bird's eggs, Chang said.

The Chinese and Taiwanese have also agreed to begin a joint survey next summer during the birds' migration period to determine the size of their population, he said.

Taiwanese conservationists are studying whether to use global positioning system to track down the sea bird's mysterious migration routes, Chang said.

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