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Black-faced Spoonbill numbers up again…

…as Action Plans are launched

BirdLife International has compiled International Action Plans for three globally Endangered and Critically Endangered migratory waterbirds in Asia, under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species.

The action plans for Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus and Chinese Crested Tern Sterna bernsteini were launched recently at the fourth meeting of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP). On 5th March, the action plan for Endangered Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor was launched at the International Symposium on Ecology, Migratory and Conservation of the Black-faced Spoonbill.“A key objective of the EAAFP is to develop, especially for priority species and habitats, flyway-wide approaches to enhance the conservation status of migratory waterbirds”, said Roger Jaensch, Chief Executive of the East Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership. “As partners of EAAFP, BirdLife International and the Convention on Migratory Species have made good progress on meeting this objective by producing the latest species action plans. Now the challenge for us all is to work with governments, industries, NGOs and the wider community in making these plans deliver real conservation outcomes.”

The Black-faced Spoonbill symposium was co-organised by Kyushu University with support from BirdLife Asia Division, and included representatives from most Black-faced Spoonbill range countries.The result of the international joint census of the Black-faced Spoonbill was also announced at the symposium. A new high of 2,346 birds was recorded between the 8th and 10th January 2010, a more than 10% increase on 2009’s census. The census has been coordinated by the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (BirdLife in Hong Kong) since 2003, and has shown a steady increase in numbers, and a real recovery of this once Critically Endangered species.

The dire situation of the Black-faced Spoonbill was raised in the early 1990s by the Chinese Wild Bird Federation, which coordinated drafting of the first International Action Plan in 1995. With support from all BirdLife Partners and programme offices, together with other NGOs in the region, significant progress was made within the first few years, and the Black-faced Spoonbill, largely unknown to the public in the 1980s, had become everyone’s favourite by the late 1990s. Some of the most important sites have also been protected.

“However, this species is still far from being saved from extinction,” said Simba Chan, Senior Conservation Officer at BirdLife’s Asia Division. “It is dependent on tidal flat habitats throughout its life cycle, and tidal flats are being reclaimed at an alarming rate throughout eastern Asia.”The tendency of Black-faced Spoonbills to be concentrated at a few sites has also raised concerns about disease and natural disasters. An outbreak of botulism killed 73 Black-faced Spoonbills in Tainan, almost 10% of the global population, in the winter of 2002.

Protection of more sites along the Black-faced Spoonbill’s flyway is regarded as one of the most important actions in the CMS action plan.

“Black-faced Spoonbill has become an important flagship species in eastern Asia,” Simba Chan added. “It is a symbol for the conservation of the tidal wetlands in eastern Asia, and it should also play an important role in promotion of international cooperation in migratory bird conservation.”

4th July 2014