Giant yellow duck explodes in Taiwan


British daily The Guardian says about this video today:

A giant yellow duck designed by Dutch artist Florentjin Hofman has exploded for the second time, eleven days after it went on display in a northern Taiwan port. The 18m-tall duck was supposed to be the star attraction for local New Year’s Eve celebrations but instead burst without explanation to the surprise of onlookers.

Taiwan conscript abused to death


This video is called Taiwan protests sparked over soldier’s death.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Ma mobbed at funeral for abused conscript

Sunday 04 August 2013

Taiwan President Ma Ying Jeou was mobbed by hundreds of angry mourners today at the funeral service for a young conscript who died after being abused by his officers.

Protesters shouted: “We want the truth” as Mr Ma, flanked by security guards, made his way to the funeral at the soldier’s home in Taichung.

More than 100,000 people had taken to the streets of the capital Taipei on Saturday following the death of Corporal Hung Chung Chiu.

He died after days of a rigorous punishment regime of push-ups, sit-ups and other exercises in sweltering heat.

He was just three days short of completing his 20-month service at the time.

Eighteen officers and NCOs have been indicted on charges ranging from abuse leading to death and involuntary manslaughter to imposing illegal punishments.

Mr Ma has already apologised and the minister of defence has resigned.

Saving Chinese crested terns


Chinese crested tern

From BirdLife:

Restoring a breeding colony for Chinese Crested Tern

Thu, Mar 21, 2013

Chinese Crested Tern is China’s rarest bird

In early March, an international workshop in Xiangshan, Zhejiang Province, China, marked the start of an ambitious plan to restore a network of breeding sites for the Critically Endangered Chinese Crested Tern Sterna bernsteini, probably the world’s most threatened seabird.

After more than half a century with no breeding records, four adults and four chicks were discovered in 2000 on the Mazu Islands (administered by Taipei) off the coast of China’s Fujian Province. In 2004 another colony was found in the Jiushan Islands, off Zhejiang Province, but breeding failed after two typhoons hit the islands. No breeding birds were seen in the Jiushans until 2007, when eight Chinese Crested Terns and about 2,000 Greater Crested Terns returned. But the colony was raided by egg poachers, and terns have not nested there since.

In 2008 a new colony, believed to be the birds that nested earlier on the Jiushans, was discovered in the Wuzhishan Islands, 80 km to the north. They have returned to nest on the Wuzhishans annually, but nesting space has become limited, and the terns have started using less favourable sites. News of the terns has spread, increasing the risk of disturbance from photographers.

Following the poaching incident on the Jiushans, BirdLife International and the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (BirdLife Partner) have been working with the Zhejiang Wild Bird Society on conservation education in Xiangshan. Teams of student volunteers have promoted tern conservation and persuaded their friends and families not to collect, buy or consume seabird eggs. Education programmes at schools and public events have raised awareness of the tern’s plight, and seabird egg poaching has been greatly reduced.

In July 2010, an international forum on seabird conservation, the first of its kind in China, was convened in Xiangshan. Inspired by a presentation on the restoration of tern colonies in the USA, (initiated by Dr. Stephen Kress of the National Audubon Society, BirdLife in the USA), the Xiangshan government and the Jiushan Islands National Nature Reserve provided more resources to prevent poaching.

The latest workshop included representatives of Zhejiang Province’s Ocean and Fishery, Forestry, and Environmental Protection departments. Leading Chinese research institutions contributed technical advice, and overseas experts presented their experience, including Caspian Tern restoration projects by Oregon State University (which will support the Jiushan Islands restoration programme), and translocation of Short-tailed Albatrosses by the Yamashina Institute of Ornithology, Japan.

The Wild Bird Society of Taipei reported on their preliminary success in using Greater Crested Tern decoys to attract Chinese Crested Terns on the Mazu Islands.

A small island in the Jiushans, close to the island used in 2004 and 2007, has been chosen as the restoration site. Nesting habitat will be improved and expanded, and tern decoys and audio playback systems will be deployed from early May. It is hoped that Greater Crested Terns will attempt to nest, and that Chinese Crested Tern will eventually join their colony. The island will be occupied by researchers 24 hours a day during the breeding season.

The project is sponsored by the Japan Fund for Global Environment and the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation (Hong Kong), with logistical support from the Xiangshan Ocean and Fishery Bureau and Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, and a small grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Chinese Crested Tern is one of the species benefiting from the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

Taiwan religious releases kill animals


This video is called National FongHuangGu Bird Park (國立鳳凰谷鳥園), NanTou, Taiwan, 12/20/2010.

From the Buddhist Channel:

Taiwan‘s Buddhist rites “killing millions” of animals

Channel News Asia, 13 May 2012

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Tens of millions of animals, mostly fish and birds, are dying every year in Taiwan because of so-called “mercy releases” by Buddhists trying to improve their karma, according to animal welfare activists.

The government is now planning to ban the practice, saying it damages the environment and that a large proportion of the 200 million or so creatures released each year die or are injured due to a lack of food and habitat.

Around 750 such ceremonies are carried out in Taiwan each year, according to the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan.

Negotiations have seen some groups agreeing to halt the practice, but others have yet to accept a ban, Lin Kuo-chang, an official from the government’s Council of Agriculture, told AFP on Sunday.

Proposed amendments to current wildlife protection laws would see offenders facing up to two years in jail or fined up to 2.5 million Taiwan dollars (US$85,000) for such unauthorised releases, he said.

he Environment and Animal Society Taiwan said some native species are under threat because of foreign species released into the wild by religious groups: here.

Taiwanese conservationists help frogs cross


Sauteris frogs

From the BBC, with video there:

29 October 2011 Last updated at 08:39 GMT

Environmentalists in Taiwan have been helping frogs to cross a road and get to a creek safely for the last three years.

During the month of October, the Society of Wilderness in Hsinchu county monitors the road alongside local students to avoid deaths.

Campaigners say the Sauteris frog is increasingly under threat as humans encroach on their habitat.

Xiaoyun Yao reports.

See also here. And here.

October 2011: Taiwan is to impose a ban on shark finning – the practice of slicing off the animal’s fins on-board and then throwing away the body at sea – so that all sharks landed in the country must have their fins still attached: here.

‘Extinct’ frog rediscovered in Israel: here.

Megamouth shark caught in Taiwan


From Taiwan News:

Rare megamouth shark caught off Taitung

Taipei, June 9 (CNA) A megamouth shark, one of the world’s rarest species, was caught Monday by a fisherman from the eastern county of Taitung, marine biologists said Tuesday.

According to National Taiwan Ocean University‘s Department of Environmental Biology and Fisheries Science, the shark is only the 42nd that has been caught or sighted worldwide and the ninth in Taiwan since the species was discovered in 1976.

The shark was 3.9 meter long, weighed 350 kilograms and its mouth when opened measured 75 centimeters across. It was netted off the county’s Chenggong coast and was sold Tuesday for NT$18,000 (US$549) to a local shark museum where it will be displayed as a preserved specimen. …

The last record of the species being spotted was in late March, when a 500-kilogram, 4-meter megamouth was caught off Burias Island in the Philippines.

LOS ANGELES — Scientists have finally identified a new species of megamouth shark that prowled the oceans about 23 million years ago, nearly 50 years after the first teeth were discovered and then forgotten: here.