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African Sacred Ibises could crowd out native species: bird society

2012/05/12 21:36:17

Taipei, May 12 (CNA) Groups of African Sacred Ibises, which were spotted in a wetland in New Taipei recently, could crowd out native species as they often compete successfully for nests and food, the Wild Bird Society of Taiwan said Saturday.

The larger predators, which eat snails, frogs, and water insects, could devastate breeding colonies of species such as little egrets and cattle Egrets and migratory birds like the grey heron and great egret in conservation areas, said Lee Chien-an, deputy chief of the society's conservation division.

The birds, recognized by their long and curved bill, originated in Africa and parts of the Middle East and often appear in groups. They were first seen in Taipei in 1984 and have been spotted in small numbers ever since, Lee said.

The latest group spotted in Taiwan was in the Wugu Wetland in New Taipei, where at least 10 of the birds were seen.

Citing a survey conducted by Yuan Hsiao-wei, a professor at National Taiwan University, Chen said around 500-600 African Sacred Ibises were spotted in Taipei, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Yunlin, Chiayi and Tainan between 2009 and 2011.

Their growing numbers show that the birds have bred rapidly and become an invasive species on the island, he said.

(By Lin Heng-li and Maia Huang)