China marshals international support to save rare diving ducks

Updated 2018-03-23 13:57:06 Xinhua

Wildlife experts from ten countries gathered at Hengshui Lake National Nature Reserve, in north China's Hebei Province, to discuss conservation of Baer's pochards.

Delegates to the workshop, coordinated by the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP), discussed the needs of and threats to the bird, identified priorities for research and monitoring, and encouraged the development of national action plans.

A diving duck, the pochard breeds in southeast Russia and northeast China, migrating to southern China, Vietnam, Japan and India in winter.

It is classified as "critically endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as its number has sharply declined since the 1980s, with the global population now standing at a mere 1,000 birds. In February, 49 Baer's pochards were recorded at Zhengbo Lake in central China's Hunan Province.

Threats of the duck include habitat loss and degradation through human disturbance and inadequate site protection and management.

Baer's Pochard Task Force, an EAAFP program, was launched in 2015 in response to the catastrophic decline in the bird's population.

"The Baer's pochard is a jewel in the crown of East Asia's natural heritage. Concentrated in China, we have the responsibility to ensure its survival," said Ding Changqing, head of the program.

According to Ding, China's forestry department has recommended Baer's Pochard be added to the list of species with Class I protection.

"If approved, this will mean severe penalties for anyone killing or disturbing the bird and will be a significant step toward the species long-term survival," said Ding.

Hengshui Lake is regarded as the most important site in the world for Baer's Pochard.

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