“Alarm-call” for China’s rarest bird
A study of Chinese Crested Tern highlights that the global population has fallen to less than fifty individuals, half what they were just three years ago.
The study believes that the main cause of this decline is an unregulated expansion in trade for seabird eggs, a local delicacy that has risen in demand alongside a thriving tourist economy.
Without urgent action conservationists have given the bird less than five years before disappearing completely from its two remaining breeding areas.
First discovered in 1861 and rarely recorded since, Chinese Crested Tern was largely presumed extinct until 2000, when four adults and four chicks were found amongst a colony of other tern species on Matsu, an island off the coast of Fujian Province. In 2004, it was discovered breeding at another site: Jiushan Islands, on the coast of Zhejiang Province of eastern China. At present these are the only known breeding sites in the world.
“We all thought we had lost this species sixty years ago and were so happy to hear of its rediscovery in 2000,” commented Simba Chan, Senior Conservation Manager at BirdLife’s Asia Division. “Its survival in Fujian and Zhejiang waters was probably due to the tension between Beijing and Taipei.”
“It would be such an irony if the Chinese Crested Tern survived amid the hostility in the Taiwanese Strait, yet becomes extinct now the relationship between Beijing and Taipei gradually normalises,” he added.
“Both sides of the Strait should work together to save this, the rarest bird in China – otherwise it will be sure to follow the Baiji [Yangtze River Dolphin] as another ecological tragedy of the early 21st century.”
The recent survey, undertaken by a Chinese survey team, is the first time Chinese Crested Tern have been surveyed over successive breeding seasons.
Matsu is controlled by the Taipei government; Jiushan by the Beijing government.
A wintering Chinese Crested Tern Sterna bernsteini has been seen and photographed in Pulau Lusaolate, north Seram, Indonesia, representing the first record of the species outside the breeding season for over 70 years: here.
- Svalbard Arctic terns get geo-locators, names (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- One Royal Baby Deserves… an Abaco Royal Tern (rollingharbour.com)
- Dutch Sandwich tern’s journey to England (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- Dr Maggie Watson’s research into parasites on Crested Terns (ilws-blog.csu.edu.au)
- When the Storm Hits, One Good Tern Deserves Another (mewlingmusings.wordpress.com)
- Spitsbergen arctic tern research (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)
- One Good Tern Deserves… a Fish [delphi Club Beach, Abaco] (rollingharbour.com)
- Checking on the terns at the Chesapeake Bay’s Poplar Island (usfwsnortheast.wordpress.com)
- Svalbard Arctic terns in love (dearkitty1.wordpress.com)