Widespread, unsustainable hunting poses severe threat to major wildlife migrations: Aussie-led study

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SYDNEY, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Widespread and unsustainable hunting are posing severe threats to migratory birds across the Asia-Pacific, with three quarters of shorebird species in the region targeted in the past four decades alone, according to a latest Australian-led research.

The findings are "deeply concerning," as the birds are already under pressure from other major forms of human impact, University of Queensland researcher Eduardo Gallo-Cajiao said in a statement late Wednesday.

"The Asia-Pacific is host to one of the most amazing animal migrations on earth," Gallo-Cajiao said.

"Every year, hundreds of thousands of shorebirds, wetland-dependent species, breed across the Arctic and boreal regions, moving south to Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand along a migration corridor known as the East Asian-Australasian Flyway."

The Flyway spans over 20 countries, through which 61 species of shorebirds complete their epic annual migrations some covering up to 25,000 km each year, he said.

"But many of these fascinating birds are unfortunately declining, with several on the brink of extinction."

"Our study discovered that other threatened species that have been subject to hunting include the great knot, far eastern curlew, and spotted greenshank," Gallo-Cajiao said.

The researchers worked for four years assembling all available evidence by analyzing hunting records from over a dozen countries, involving 46 species.

There are currently five shorebird species at high risk of extinction in the region, including the critically endangered spoon-billed sandpiper, of which fewer than 500 remain, according to the researchers. Their findings were published in scientific journal Biological Conservation.

University researcher Richard Fuller said managing hunting was complicated by the broad range of people involved, from recreational hunters to subsistence hunters and commercial traders.

"At least some hunting is driven by issues of food security, so sustainable development must be considered when developing alternatives for management," Fuller said.

"There's no coordinated monitoring of how many shorebirds are taken annually across the region, which makes management really hard," he said.

"Internationally coordinated approaches to address hunting are now underway, including through the UN Convention on Migratory Species, but these efforts need to be drastically ramped up to avoid extinctions and maintain healthy wildlife populations," Fuller said.

"Additional ground surveys and an international coordinated monitoring strategy are also urgently needed." Enditem

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