Taiwan sees growing number of black kites

The number of black kites seen in Taiwan has increased by 200 to 626 in 2016, according to a survey conducted by the Taipei-based Raptor Research Group of Taiwan, which attributed the rise to recent efforts to promote more eco-friendly farming.

Sponsored by the Forestry Bureau, the group cooperated with birdwatchers to conduct the bird survey at 16 different places around Taiwan and found that the endangered bird species' numbers have grown from 359 in 2014 to 426 in 2015 and 626 in 2016.

Among the 16 locations, Taipei Feitsui Reservoir in northern Taiwan recorded the largest number of 109 black kites, followed by 107 in Sandimen Township in the southern county of Pingtung, according to information provided by birdwatchers.

Researcher Lin Hui-shan (???), who was responsible for the survey, said that when the group started the survey three years ago, they found that many black kites died from eating other smaller birds that had died from eating crops sprayed with toxic pesticides.

Highly toxic carbofuran has been widely used by local farmers to keep birds from eating their crops, such as rice and fruits, and the deaths of many birds after eating crops have been traced back to carbofuran.

But for the past three years, the group has urged local farmers not to use toxic pesticides to kill birds, and the efforts have paid off, Lin said.

Lin also noted the government's campaign to promote more environmentally friendly farming in recent years, which she said has also helped create a friendlier environment for black kites.

According to past surveys by birdwatchers, there were fewer than 300 black kites in Taiwan before 2013, Lin said.

Sun Yuan-hsun (???), a professor in the Institute of Wildlife Conservation at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, said estimates have put the number of black kites seen in Taiwan at more than 5,000 during the Japanese colonial era (1895-1945).

The number of black kites began falling, however, since pesticides were introduced in Taiwan in 1961, Sun said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel