By Feng Yongfeng
Migratory birds are being killed in large numbers by hunters, but responsibility also lies with consumer demand for the meat.
Wildlife photographers and bird watchers gathered at the Beidagang Wetlands Nature Reserve in Tianjin last month were shocked to find a poisoned flock of Oriental White Storks, a protected species. At least 22 of the birds were dead.
It was later found that 100 other birds, including mallards, Eurasian teals, spot-billed ducks and grey herons had also died. Tianjin police offered a reward of 50,000 yuan for help in their search for the criminals. However, the truth behind the death is, perhaps, far more complex than a hunt for a band of poachers.
A large proportion of the world’s 10,000 bird species are migratory. China lies in the northern hemisphere, so its birds usually fly north in the spring and return to the south in autumn.
“If they don’t get killed here, they’ll get killed somewhere else,” is how Hunan bird conservation volunteer Li Feng describes the way the migratory birds are hunted en route. From September this year he and two other volunteers have been secretly observing mountain passes in Dudong county, which the birds must pass through. Hunters are out every night with guns and powerful lights.
On the other side of the pass lies Yingpanxu, in Jiangxi. The locals there take pride in their hunting skills, and it is tradition that the first solid food a child eats after weaning is bird stew. Bird hunting is seen as a cultural tradition here, and during the season people will even travel back from their jobs in the cities to join in. More....