Taiwan winning war against invasive bird species thanks to aboriginal hunting skills

There should be only a handful of African sacred ibis left in Taiwan by the end of this year, according to the Forestry Bureau, thanks to the efforts of indigenous hunters who were brought in to deal with the invasive species after previous strategies had failed.

In 2016, numbers of African sacred ibis were estimated at around 1,000 birds inhabiting wetlands in Changhua County and some other areas along the west coast. The population is believed to have grown from around 20 individuals who escaped from a private zoo in the early 1980s.

An effort to reduce numbers of the invasive species by removing eggs and fledglings beginning in May 2016 failed to have any effect, and numbers continued to boom.

In 2017, a pilot program was launched in Taoyuan City commissioning aboriginal hunters who shot 800 of the birds that year. The program went nationwide the following year with 100 hunters shooting 15,405 ibis in 2018.

While the war against the African sacred ibis has been concentrated on the west coast, earlier this week it was reported that three individuals had been spotted at a fish farm in Shoufeng Township, Hualien County, on Taiwan’s east coast.

The Hualien Forestry Management Office immediately initiated an emergency removal plan and by yesterday, Wednesday, August 18, the last of the three had been shot and killed.

Cover picture: Forestry Bureau, Hualien Office.

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