Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Questions of water conservation

Today's Taipei Times features an editorial titled Questions of water conservation by Chang Yen-ming, deputy director of the Water Resources Agency. The article has a dig at the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee (EIAC) because they "ordered that the construction of the Hushan Water Reservoir be halted because they didn't accept the environmental research reports" but the editorial fails to mention that this order has been ignored and it also fails to go into the reasons as to why EIAC didn't accept the environmental research reports. Sadly, it seems as if this editorial is just another unjustified jibe at environmentalists pushing for more responsible usage of Taiwan's water resources.

Update 2007-8-16

The following letter is a draft of a letter that some Taiwanese students have sent to various newspapers and websites. We are not aware of the letter having been published but it may well have. The views expressed in the letter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NTCAHD and this blog. The figures contained in this letter reflect the shocking reality of the present CO2 emissions situation in Taiwan and why we don't need to increase heavy emission generating industry in Taiwan. The responsible thing to do is to reduce these present emission levels, not increase them. How responsible is the building of a dam that's function is to supply water to more industry that will increase Taiwan's CO2 emissions dramatically and destroy much of what little remains of western lowland natural Taiwan?

Open Letter on Global Warming to Taiwan’s Pacific Allies

To the Government and People of the Republic of Kiribati; Republic of the Marshall Islands; Republic of Nauru; Republic of Palau; Solomon Islands; and Tuvalu.

Dear Friends,

We sincerely thank your representatives for their visit to Taiwan. We believe that their visit on July 27th shows your concern and interest in Taiwan's progress in the struggle against global warming. We believe that Taiwan, as a member of the global community, is obliged to carry out and advise its close friends to adopt environmentally sound policies. Although the Minister of Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), Dr. Winston Dang, has shared with you his department’s successful experience in waste management, and may appear to have solved your technical problems; you must understand that Taiwan's environment has always been sacrificed for development and priority has been given to highly contaminating heavy industry. This does not, of course, correspond with the EPA minister's claims that Taiwan is a victim of global warming. Although the international consensus discourages the proliferation of contaminating heavy industries, Taiwan is under no constraint from the UN because it is not a member, nor is it regulated by the Kyoto Protocol. Consequently, the Taiwanese government has invested in industries with high energy and water consumption, violating international agreements.

As of now, Taiwan ranks number three in CO2 emission per capita in the world, only behind the United States and Australia. Its 11.9 tons/per capita emission far exceed the 3.9 world average. According to the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, there has been an 8% annual growth rate in Taiwan's CO2 emission in the past ten years (1995-2005), while the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) only increased by 4%. This violates the Kyoto Protocol's regulation on CO2 emissions. Taiwan's CO2 emissions seem unlikely to decrease in the future. The fact remains that its CO2 emissions have been increasing significantly. Liu Shao Chen of the Research Center for Environmental Changes (RCEC), Academia Sinica, points out that Taiwan's CO2 emission rate is the fastest growing CO2 emission rate in the world, and that the emission rate has increased by 110% in the past 15 years. This is primarily the reason for our disbelief of the Taiwan government’s commitment to combating global warming. Also consider the proposed massive industrial developments that will raise the total emission rate by 40%, making Taiwan the single highest CO2 emission per capita country in the world. It is Taiwan's responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of its friends. However, the Taiwan government's aggressive development of its industry and energy resources places the economic development of particular sectors far above the environmental security of its people and of the peoples of the world.

It is known that if the greenhouse effect causes the sea level to rise, island countries will be the first to suffer. The ocean that millions depend on for a living is now becoming a threat to their homelands. If the Taiwan government continues to disregard your right to a healthy and clean environment, we strongly suggest that you take the necessary protective action. We believe that the maintaining of the conditions of basic living should be the fundamental consideration of any government. Money cannot restore the island's beauty once it is gone. Therefore, we demand that the Taiwanese government provide CO2 pollution reparations for countries that are most affected. We even recommend that you consider cutting relations with the current Taiwan government as a final action to show your disapproval until the issue of global warming is responsibly addressed. Strategically, due to Taiwan's unique political situation, the government of Taiwan may accept conditional negotiation if the consequences of not doing so are severe. No one wishes to push its own country into a grave diplomatic situation in the international community. However, for the welfare of all people, we ask for your interference and action. Please support the Taiwanese people, and help us to make the Taiwan government realize the importance of sustainable living, and the drawbacks of corporate governance, so that it can provide us and its friends with a sustainable and healthy living space.

Tuvalu, one of the 24 countries with diplomatic ties with Taiwan, faces the threat of extinction caused by rising ocean levels. Tuvalu is a country that is only 5 meters above sea level. On November 15, 2006, as a result of rising ocean levels, a number of the habitants of Tuvalu were forced to relocate to New Zealand, becoming the world's first group of environmental refugees.

Clearly, the Taiwan government has not seriously considered the diplomatic consequences of its disregard to responsibly combat global warming and taking actions similar to those taken by other industrialized countries. If the friends of Taiwan suffer under global climate change, Taiwan cannot be exempt from the suffering. The Australia government has refused to accept Tuvalu refugees into the country. The Taiwan government should ask itself: under the same situation, can we promise anything more? If not, we strongly demand that the Taiwanese government reconsider the pollution tax alternative and emission reduction plan to save lives, and to save Taiwan!

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Second International Workshop on the Taiwan Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins

Taiwan Humpback Dolphin, Photo courtesy of FormosaCetus Research and Conservation Group.

The Second International Symposium and Workshop on the Conservation and Research Needs of the Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins, Sousa chinensis, in the waters of western Taiwan will take place in (Lukang/Taichung) Taiwan from September 4-7, 2007. Details will be posted as soon as we receive them.

The Hushan Dam project will have a very negative impact on Taiwan's unique and extremely vulnerable population of Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins Sousa chinensis (Pink Dolphin/Chinese White Dolphin). See the Save the Taiwan Sousa Dolphin Blog for details.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Old article and the May 2000 EIA

When the Environmental Protection Administration's (EPA) Hushan Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was published in May 2000 not a word was said about the Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha. The knowledge of the Fairy Pitta in Taiwan's lowland forests dates back to Robert Swinhoe's 1864 report on Formosan birds (Ibis, 1864) and had since been covered by Hachisuka and Udigawa in 1951, Severinghaus and Blackshawn in 1976, and Wu in 1991, so the EPA was well aware of the existence of this internationally protected species and should have been considering it because it was known to breed in the lowland forests of western Taiwan. In 2000 the issue of gravel extraction and its impact on the Huben Fairy Pitta was under the spotlight so it would appear that at that time it was a well known fact that Fairy Pitta were to be found in the area.

See Eight-color bird' sparks new environmental row, an article from the July 5, 2000, edition of Taipei Times.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Another disappointing reply from the Council of Agriculture

Another disappointing reply from the Council of Agriculture has been received. This time in response to our letter of Response to the Council of Agriculture’s letter concerning the Taiwan Humpback Dolphins. The Hushan Dam project is the key to further development of Taiwan's central west coast region. The Hushan Dam project will have a very negative downstream impact on species such as the unique population of Taiwan's Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. See Another Disappointing Reply from the Council of Agriculture for details of the letter.

Friday, July 20, 2007

EPA accused of 'stalling tactics.'

On Thursday Environmental Impact Assessment Committee member, Gloria Hsu, alleged that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deliberately kept important cases off the Environmental Impact Assessment Committee's (EIAC) agenda. Read the Taipei Times article titled "EPA accused of `stalling tactics' during protest."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fairy Pitta fledgling monitoring, update on the individual photographed

On July 2 we posted a brief article about Monitoring of Fairy Pitta nests and the movements of fledglings. An update on the fledgling shown in the photos used in that post has been received. The nestling fledged on June 12 and was captured by researchers just minutes after fledgling. The youngster was well above the average size of a fledgling at that age and was therefore fitted with a radio transmitter for monitoring.

This fledgling was observed many times over a period of three weeks within the area it had been banded. It was feeding well on earthworms by itself. After three weeks it almost fell pray to a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela but successfully escaped unharmed. That same day the signal was lost. It would seem that the incident caused the bird to move to a different area. If the bird had been caught by a raptor the radio transmitter would more than likely have been recovered as they have been with other fledglings that have fallen pray to raptors. Movements before migration are common so its disappearance from the area can be seen as normal. Lets pray he makes it back next summer and that his leg bands are observed by researchers once again in the Huben area for many years to come.

Fledgling with transmitter as shown in Monitoring of Fairy Pitta nests and the movements of fledglings.

Other photos of the fledgling being fitted with a transmitter.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hushan Fish List

Giant Mottled Eel Anguilla marmorata Native
Loach species Crossostoma lacustre Endemic
Loach species Hemimyzon formosanus Endemic
Loach species Sinogastromyzon puliensis Endemic VU*
Acrossocheilus species (Minnows & Carps) Acrossocheilus paradoxus Endemic
Taiwan Shovel-jaw Carp Scaphesthes barbatulus Endemic
Microphysogobio species (Minnows & Carps) Microphysogobio brevirostris Endemic
Microphysogobio species (Minnows & Carps) Microphysogobio alticorpus Endemic
Zacco species (Minnows & Carps) Zacco pachycephalus Endemic
Asian Freshwater Minnow Zacco platypus Native
Lake Candidus Dace Candidia barbata Endemic
Oriental Weather Loach Misgurnus anguillicaudatus Native
Siberian Spiny Loach Cobitis sinensis Introduced
Amur Catfish Parasilurus asotus Native
Catfish species Pseudobagrus adiposalis Native
Catfish species Pseudobagrus brevianalis Native
Mosquitofish Gambusia affinis Introduced
Swamp Eel Monopterus albus Native
Redbelly Tilapia Tilapia zillii Introduced
Amur Goby Rhinogobius brunneus Native
Perch-like species Rhinogobius candidianus Native

*IUCN listing

Also see:
Hushan Bird List
Hushan Mammal List
Hushan Frog List
Hushan Reptile List
Endemic Species & Subspecies of Hushan: Mammals, Reptiles & Amphibians

Friday, July 13, 2007

Music Video

New Dream of Hushan's Musing Valley

This music video was put together by a number of university student activists to protest the Hushan Dam project. The video is in Chinese but here's a translation of the lyrics to give you an idea of what it's about.

Title: (Click title to view video) New Dream of Hushan's Musing Valley

Only you know You-cing Gu under water can't be told.

Spirits inside took no hold,
Worry that dawns have since gone,
Tai-so devil earned a load,
Tyrant's plan ever bold,
Smiled more as money rolled,
let the land rot.

Begonia ravenii* begged in vain,
Give it a reason to go,
or pretend nothings happening at all,
Because the pocket can't be filled.

As the demon exploits the water to its full,
Who hears the silent sorrows afar,
Beautiful blossoms, hops and crawls,
Spotted no more in Hushan.
With the Fairy Pitta gone forever,
take no photos in Musing Valley.

Smiled more as money rolled,
let the land rot.
Begonia ravenii* begged in vain,
give it a reason to go,
or pretend nothings happening at all,
because the pocket can't be filled.

As the demon exploits the water to its full,
Who hears the silent sorrows afar,
Beautiful blossoms, hops and crawls,
Spotted no more in Hushan.
With the Fairy Pitta gone forever,
enjoy nothing but a Fairy specimen.

Cherish the little creatures,
Stop building dams !
Take care of the land around us,
Where our treasure lies.

*Begonia ravenii -Taiwanese Begonia, a protected, rare and endemic Begonia species found only in the hills of Taichung, Yunlin, and Chiayi Counties. The species was only described as recently as 1988 by C.I.Peng and Y.K.Chen in Taiwan Botanical Bulletin, Academia Sinica 29: 217-222, 1988.

Begonia ravenii photographed in Youqing valley, Hushan 2007-02-05.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Huben-Hushan Bird List

NB!!! This List has been updated ! Click here for the new list !

Huben Bird List

Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Malayan Night-Heron Gorsachius melanolophus
Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
Besra Accipiter virgatus
Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus
Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus
Oriental Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus
Crested Serpent-Eagle Spilornis cheela
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus
Taiwan Partridge Arborophila crudigularis
Chinese Bamboo-Partridge Bambusicola thoracica
Swinhoe's Pheasant Lophura swinhoii
Barred Buttonquail Turnix susciator
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Slaty-legged Crake Rallina eurizonoides
White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Ashy Wood-Pigeon Columba pulchricollis
Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
Oriental Turtle-Dove Streptopelia orientalis
Red Collared-Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica
White-bellied Green Pigeon Treron sieboldii
Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis
Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Cuculus sparverioides
Collared Scops-Owl Otus bakkamoena
Mountain Scops-Owl Otus spilocephalus
Brown Hawk-Owl Nixos scutulata
House Swift Apus affinis
White-throated Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda
Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata
Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
Black-browed Barbet Megalaima oorti
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus
Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha
Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula
Asian Martin Delichon dasypus
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Striated Swallow Hirundo striolata
Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica
Plain Martin Riparia paludicola
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris
Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus
Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae
Taiwan Blue Magpie Urocissa caerulea
Vinous-throated Parrotbill Paradoxornis webbianus
Black-throated Tit Aegithalos concinnus
Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus
Varied Tit Parus varius
Dusky Fulvetta Alcippe brunnea
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe morrisonia
Rusty Laughingthrush Garrulax poecilorhynchus
White-eared Sibia Heterophasia auricularis
Steere's Liocichla Liocichla steerii
Spot-breasted Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus erythrocnemis
Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyris ruficeps
White-bellied Yuhina Yuhina zantholeuca
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis
Collared Finchbill Spizixos semitorques
White-tailed Robin Cinclidium leucurum
Taiwan Whistling-Thrush Myophonus insularis
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus
Dusky Thrush Turdus naumanni
Pale Thrush Turdus pallidus
Scaly Thrush Zoothera dauma
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis
Oriental Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis
Japanese Bush Warbler Cettia diphone
Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exills
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata
Striated Prinia Prinia criniger
Grey-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa griseisticta
Black-naped Blue Monarch Hypothymis azurea
Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea
Vivid Niltava Niltava vivida
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonica
Scaly Munia Lonchura punctulata
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Taiwan Yuhina # Yuhina brunneiceps
White-rumped Shama # Copsychus malabaricus

# Presumed escapee

105 Species

Huben-Hushan Bird List-Download

Also see:
Hushan Mammal List
Hushan Frog List
Hushan Reptile List
Endemic Species & Subspecies of Hushan: Mammals, Reptiles & Amphibians
Hushan Fish List

Recently Published Papers on the Fairy Pitta

Below are links to two recently published papers on the Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha.

The Diet of Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha Nestlings in Taiwan as Revealed by Videotaping-Ruey-Shing Lin, Cheng-Te Yao, and Pei-Fen Lee. Zoological Studies 46(3): 355-361 (2007).

Effectiveness of Playbacks in Censusing the Fairy Pitta (Pitta nympha) during the Breeding Season in Taiwan-Ruey-Shing Lin, Pei-Fen Lee, Tzung-Su Ding, and Yu-Teh Kirk Lin. Zoological Studies 46(2): 242-248 (2007).

Updated 2008/4/14*
Also see:
Nestling Diet, Nest Site Selection and Nest Success of the Fairy Pitta in Taiwan, a doctoral dissertation by R.S. Lin

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Video-Living Jewels, The Fairy Pitta

Watch an online video on the Fairy Pitta: Living Jewels, The Fairy Pitta

Although somewhat old and a little outdated an interesting production on the Fairy Pitta titled Living Jewels, The Fairy Pitta produced by the Taiwan Endemic species Research Institute. The site also features a number of other English videos on Taiwan's natural heritage.

Topics Article-“Eight-color Birds” and the Threat of Inundation

“Eight-color Birds” and the Threat of Inundation

See AmCham's Taiwan Business Topics magazine and the article
“Eight-color Birds” and the Threat of Inundation by Steven Crook.

Also see:
See it before it's gone: Yunlin's Youcinggu

Fairy Pitta and other Huben Birds Gallery

The Huben Fairy Pittas

Other Birds Found in the Huben/Hushan Area

Taiwan Whistling Trush

Black-naped Blue Monarch

Black-naped Blue Monarch

Chinese Bamboo Partridge

Barred Buttonquail

Swinhoe's Pheasant

Taiwan Barbet: a recent split from Black-browed Barbet

Daurian Redstart

Black Bulbul

Light-vented Bulbul

Collared Finchbill

Black Drongo

Bronzed Drongo

Black-throated Tit

Green-backed Tit

Brown Hawk Owl

Collared Scops Owl

Mountain Scops Owls

Grey-chinned Minivet female

Grey-chinned Minivet male

Grey Wagtail

Grey-headed Pygmy Woodpecker

Pale Thrush

Scaly Thrush

Oriental Cuckoo

Oriental Turtle Doves

White-bellied Green Pigeon

Malayan Night Heron

Plain Prinia

Taiwan Blue Magpie

Grey-faced Buzzard

Crested Goshawk

Crested Serpent Eagle

All photos courtesy of Richard Yu.
Copyright Richard Yu.

Also see:
Birding in the Huben-Hushan Area
Birding in Taiwan and Yunlin County
Hushan Bird List
Huben Bird Stories
Threatened Birds of the Huben-Hushan area
The Hushan Dam Project