China on Friday presented a pair of endangered red ibis to the Republic of Korea to help a project to restore the species to the Korean Peninsula.
The pair of captive-bred, 5-year-old birds were handed over in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province on Friday.
They were selected from the Yangxian County Red Ibis Breeding Center. They will resettle in a red ibis restoration center in Gyeongsangnam-do in the southeast of the ROK.
"The ROK was also once a habitat for red ibis," said Yin Hong, deputy director of China's State Forestry Administration.
"The Chinese people understand well the ROK people's love for red ibis and hope the endangered species can be revived there," she said.
Kim Taeho, provincial governor of Gyeongsangnam-do, thanked the Chinese government for its efforts in protecting the species and hoped the two countries would make joint efforts for its restoration in ROK.
Two Chinese red ibis breeders also flew to ROK on a special plane with the birds to help with the breeding. They will stay in ROK for about one year.
One of the most endangered species in the world, the red ibis were once widely found in China, Russia, the Korean Peninsula and Japan, but have been on the verge of extinction since the 1950s.
Chinese experts discovered seven wild red ibis in Yangxian County in Shaanxi in May 1981, believed to be the only wild red ibis living in the world at that time.
The local government banned hunting, shooting, timber felling and poison bait traps in red ibis habitats.
The central government launched a protection project for the red ibis in 1993 and built three breeding centers in Shaanxi and Beijing.
The number of red ibis in China now exceeds 1,000, including 512 artificially bred.
(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2008)