6 migratory bird species in Vietnam face extinction

By Gia Chinh   May 28, 2022 | 12:00 am PT
6 migratory bird species in Vietnam face extinction
Swallows and white storks migrate to central Quang Nam Province in 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh
The number of birds that migrate through Vietnam has dropped significantly in recent years and six of them are on the verge of extinction.

The six species that are currently in a critical state are spoon-billed sandpiper, Nordmann's greenshank, great knot, far Eastern curlew, Chinese egret and Saunders's gull, said Nguyen Hoai Bao, representative of the BirdLife International Asia, the world's largest nature conservation partnership with 120 partners worldwide.

Vietnam lies on one of nine important flight routes of migratory birds with over 300 different species, he said at a conference on bird conservation held Friday in Hanoi by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The biggest destinations are Xuan Thuy National Park in Nam Dinh Province and Cat Ba Island off Hai Phong City, both in the Red River Delta, and the Mekong Delta's Tram Chim National Park in Dong Thap Province, Go Cong Town in Tien Giang Province, and the Tien River in Tien Giang and Ben Tre provinces.

According to BirdLife International, migratory birds in general and those having destinations in Vietnam are critically endangered due to habitat loss.

Urbanization activities, construction works, agriculture, aquaculture and industrial development have caused the loss of migratory birds.

The conversion of natural wetland areas into land for growing rice and practicing aquaculture; and the resultant overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides have destroyed the ecological balance.

In the last two years, worrying that birds would feed on their shrimps and fish, many farmers have sealed their farms, leaving many birds to starve to death, said Bao.

In addition, the strong development of near-shore wind farms in recent years has caused many birds to die as they hit the windmills, he said.

According to the Department of Nature Biodiversity Conservation under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam has 918 bird species of which 12 are endemic, 9 are critically endangered, 17 are endangered, 21 vulnerable species, and 44 endangered species.

The department says there are five main threats to wild birds: shrinking habitat and foraging; hunting and trapping; trafficking and consumption; environmental pollution; and climate change.

Hoang Thi Thanh Nhan, deputy head of the department, said the fact that fewer and fewer migratory birds are flying through Vietnam is a sign that the country is losing the balance between environmental protection and economic development.

"Vietnam currently has two destinations for birds migrating between Australia and East Asia. In the coming time, we will review all other destinations to prepare plans for conservation, especially in wetland areas," she said.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh signed a directive on protecting migratory birds, assigning specific tasks for each unit and locality to put an end to hunting and consumption of wild birds.

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