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Wildlife groups call for more efforts to recover endangered species

2019-08-16  English News
Ho Tsung-hsun (second left), Pei Jai-chyi (back, center) and Wang Yu-min (fourth right)/Photo courtesy of CNA
Ho Tsung-hsun (second left), Pei Jai-chyi (back, center) and Wang Yu-min (fourth right)/Photo courtesy of CNA
Taipei, Aug. 15 (CNA) A coalition of wildlife conservation groups and experts urged the government Thursday to step up the protection and regeneration of endangered species, as they face possible extinction.

At a press conference held that day at the Legislative Yuan, Ho Tsung-hsun, secretary-general of Taiwan Animal Protection Monitor Network , said that even though this year is the 30th year since the Wildlife Conservation Act was promulgated in June 1989, the country still faces the problem of a vast number of endangered species.

According to statistics compiled by the network, there are only around 500 leopard cats, 200-600 Asian black bears, 50 Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, 1,000-4,000 Formosan landlocked salmon, 100 Eurasian otters, and under 100 russet sparrows left in Taiwan.

Other endangered species also include the Papilio maraho butterfly, the Alishan salamander, and the Maki's keelback snake, the statement said.

In addition, according to statistics cited in "The Red List of Birds of Taiwan, 2016," published by the Endemic Species Research Institute under the Council of Agriculture, the country has six bird species that are critically endangered.

These are the Saunders's gull (67-200), the Chinese crested tern (1-15), the common buttonquail (50-250), the spoon-billed sandpiper (1-5), the Baer's pochard (5-30) and the ring-necked pheasant (100-300).
Pei Jai-chyi, a professor at the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology's Institute of Wildlife Conservation, said that even though Taiwan has a Wildlife Conservation Act, it does not include any articles on how to recover endangered wildlife.

"We need to amend our conservation act to include clearer laws to help endangered species regenerate," he said. "Different species require different methods to help them regenerate, and we should set goals based on individual cases."

The Act should include information on how each endangered species can be restored, Ho told CNA.

Currently, the Wildlife Conservation Act only contains articles regarding the conservation and preservation of wildlife animals, and penalties for those who hunt or kill wildlife animals, or import or export them without approval.

Pei said the government needs to consider these matters urgently otherwise animals like the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin may very well become extinct.

Legislator Wang Yu-min echoed Pei's sentiments, saying that the government has placed too much emphasis on research and investigation into the numbers of endangered species rather than making efforts to help regenerate their numbers.

"If we do not place emphasis on the regeneration of endangered species, they will one day be extinct," she said.

Meanwhile, a drop in budget allocated for wildlife conservation also reflects the difficulties in helping endangered species, Wang said.

"The budget in 2016 was NT$79.74 million (US$2.54 million), but the budget for this year was cut to NT$37.57 million," she said, adding that because of the budget cuts, regeneration plans may not be able to reach their full potential.

In response, Hsia Jung-sheng, head of the Forestry Bureau's Conservation Division, said her division will take into consideration the various opinions and comments from experts and conservation groups, but did not say whether she supports an amendment to Taiwan's wildlife conservation laws.

In a telephone interview with CNA after the press conference, Hsu, a section chief in the Forestry Bureau's Conservation Division, said her division will hold a meeting within two weeks with relevant authorities, such as the Council of Agriculture, and conservation groups, to discuss ideas and directions of possible law amendments.

Other groups represented at the press conference included the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Taiwan, Taiwan's Chinese Wild Bird Federation, the Taiwan Cetacean Society and the Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.