Fundraising campaign for endangered bird garners support from public

A fundraising campaign aimed at helping a critically endangered bird that migrates to Taiwan's outlying Matsu islands every summer has already raised almost half of its target amount in less than two weeks, a bird conservation group said Friday.

The Wild Bird Society of Taipei (WBST) said it had raised NT$456,611 (US$16,307.53) for its thalasseus bernsteini (Chinese crested tern) conservation plan as of Friday morning, less than a fortnight after it started an online campaign on Dec. 18.

The Chinese crested tern, a type of bird in the family Laridae, features a yellow beak with a black tip. It has been listed as a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with an estimated 100 of them living in the wild today, according to the WBST.

The WBST said it was hoping to raise NT$1 million by March 17, 2022 to set up new CCTV cameras on an island called Tiechien (??) in the Matsu archipelago, where a group of Chinese crested terns makes its home every year from May to September after traveling from Southeast Asia to breed.

According to the bird society, the Chinese crested tern has been facing difficulties in laying eggs on the island for two years in a row partly due to the operations of fishing vessels nearby.

The beams of light emitted from the vessels frighten the birds, disrupt them from laying eggs, and even cause them to leave the island, the WBST said.

In addition, the birds are facing a shortage of food because of the increasingly scarce fish population as well as the effect of pollution caused by floating sea trash surrounding the island, added the group, which launched a research program in 2008 in collaboration with a team led by National Taiwan University professor Yuan Hsiao-wei (???).

Installing more cameras on the island will allow for better monitoring of the situation there, the WBST said, adding that it would also allow the group to intervene in a timely manner when events that pose a danger to the birds occur.

In addition, the funding will be allocated to recruit more staffers to conduct monitoring work and hire local vessels to patrol along the coast of the island regularly, the group said.

The campaign, if it succeeds, will also finance the setup of life-size bird models on the island in a move that the group said would help attract the Chinese crested tern back to the island to make it their breeding place.

The group also plans to launch a nationwide tour in an effort to promote bird conservation in Taiwan.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel