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BirdLife International "Save the Albatross" Campaign

The Re-discovery of the Chinese Crested Tern Sterna bernsteini

A chance to save the Chinese Crested Tern. A species feared extinct, the Chinese Crested Tern Sterna bernsteini, has been rediscovered breeding on a small Taiwanese islet.

Liang Chieh-teh observed at least four pairs and four chicks on the Matsu islands, just 10 km offshore from Fukien province, China. Liang was filming terns and other birds for a Council of Agriculture of Taiwan project being carried out through the Wild Bird Federation Taiwan (WBFT, BirdLife in Taiwan).

The Chinese Crested Tern is a Critically Endangered species, known only from a handful of records during the breeding season on the eastern coast of China (no nests have previously ever been found) and outside the breeding season from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines. There have been no definite records since 1937 when specimens were collected in Shandong province, China, although there have been several unconfirmed sight records since, the most recent in 1991.

The islet is listed as a wildlife sanctuary by the Taiwanese Government, but now its global significance is apparent, there is an exciting opportunity to introduce adequate protection measures to save the Chinese Crested Tern from extinction. One step that could be taken is to employ full time wardens on the island and to strengthen boat patrols in the area. Fishermen from Fukien regularly visit tern colonies in the area to collect eggs for food and it is likely that the birds suffer from disturbance of this nature. Increased pressure from the appropriate local authorities would help to stop this practice. Another conservation action would be to remove any introduced rats that are likely to be predators of ground-nesting seabirds.

Other Websites with news on this exciting discovery:

BirdLife are also running a "Save The Albatross" Campaign. Click here for their article.