Taiwan considers culling African sacred ibis

Number of birds in Taiwan might have reached 10,000

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African sacred ibises in South Africa (photo by Bob Adams)

African sacred ibises in South Africa (photo by Bob Adams) (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - The discovery of 2,000 African sacred ibises nesting in Chiayi County has led forestry officials to consider a mass cull of the birds known for driving out native species, the Apple Daily reported Saturday.

The ibises are extremely adaptable and compete for territory and resources with local birds such as little egrets and cattle egrets, while also eating their eggs and their young.

The problem is not limited to Chiayi County, since up to 10,000 ibises might already be living all along the western coast of Taiwan, from New Taipei City, where they are a common sight along the Tamsui River, to the southern part of the island, officials said.

A research project in 2017 found the birds to number between 2,200 and 3,000, but at present, estimates put their number at between 5,000 and 10,000.

Killing the birds with air guns has become a consensus among relevant government departments and wildlife experts, but it is still to be seen whether this method is effective, as care needs to be taken not to shoot down other species, according to Apple Daily.

Previous campaigns to take away ibis eggs to reduce the population proved unhelpful, forestry officials said.