This year the government is giving unprecedented priority to the protection of the great bustard, a species under serious threat both in China and the wider world, with a nationwide monitoring network established in April, the China Green Times reported on May 15.
A great bustard living in the Baiyangdian Wetland, Hebei Province. With the improvement of the environment in the area since 2006, numbers of the endangered species have increased measurably. [China.com.cn]
The great bustard, or Otis tarda
in Latin, is 60-70-centimeters tall and weighs about 10 kilograms. It is known as the heaviest flying species in the world. There are only about 500 in China. It has been included in The Bird Life International Red Data Book
published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
The species is little-known in China even though it is under state first-level protection. Its numbers have dwindled rapidly in recent decades due to climate change and human damage to its habitat, scientists say.
The monitoring network was jointly set up by the State Forestry Administration and the Beijing Forestry University. Many other rare birds come under the scope of its monitoring and protection.
Protected habitats include Tumuji Nature Reserve, Dalai Lake, Ke'erqin Grassland, and Tejinhan Mountains in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region; Lingqiu County in Shanxi Province; Hengshui Nature Reserve in Hebei Province; Wild Duck Lake in Beijing; and the Yellow River Delta.
Workers regularly observe and report the number of great bustards and any changes in their environment. They have created a long-term protection plan and formed a stable scientific research team in the field.
The country's first seminar on the protection of great bustards was held in Beijing in late March, when experts exchanged views on the status of the monitoring and protection measures.
An international seminar is expected to be held in November, during which world-renowned experts will be invited to China to share their research on the topic.