A Taiwanese biodiversity database has compiled records of nearly 10 million wildlife sightings, making it the second-largest in Asia, with the vast majority of data coming from volunteers, according to the Council of Agriculture's (COA) Endemic Species Research Institute.
The Taiwan Biodiversity Network (TBN), which was founded in 2007, had recorded 9.87 million animal and plant sightings as of the end of July, Ko Chih-jen (柯智仁), an assistant researcher at the institute, announced at a press conference Friday.
By way of comparison, Ko noted that India had compiled Asia's largest database of wildlife sightings with 18-19 million records, followed by Taiwan with nearly 10 million and Japan with 8 million.
According to TBN statistics, birds are the most widely-tracked wildlife on the Taiwan database, with 7.47 million reported sightings.
They are followed by butterflies and moths, with 410,000 sightings, and frogs, with around 100,000, the statistics showed.
More than 8.5 million, or 87 percent of the sightings in Taiwan, were submitted by volunteers after the platform began accepting reports from the public in 2017, Ko said.
An additional 7 percent of the sightings came from government-sponsored projects, while 5 percent were drawn from museum records, he added.
The remainder, accounting for less than 1 percent, came from scientific research, non-governmental organizations or genetic sequencing databases, Ko said.
The recorded sightings are useful not only for conservationists to track the changes in the population of various species of fauna and the prevalence of species of flora; the records also help to ensure the safety people who come in contact with wildlife.
For instance, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) uses the database's records of poisonous snake sightings to inform its decisions on the distribution of antivenom, the institute's director, Yang Jia-dong (楊嘉棟), said.
In addition to recording animal and plant sightings, TBN also promotes civilian science initiatives and education on topics such as roadkill prevention and wildlife conservation on farmland. (By Yang Su-min and Matthew Mazzetta)