Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Another reason to save the west coast: Saunders's Gull

Four wintering Saunders's Gulls wading on a west coast mudflat, 2008-11-30.

Three Saunders's Gulls in the foreground with Black-headed Gulls and other waders in the background, 2008-11-30.

A lone Saunders's Gull center with other waders and Black-headed Gulls around it, 2008-11-30.

The Saunders's Gull Larus saundersi is one of East Asia's most threatened gulls. The global population of Saunders's Gull is estimated at 7,100 - 9,600 and decreasing (A recent paper by Cao et el gives a higher population total but states the increase is almost certainly due to increased survey effort and the paper still shows that the population is fast declining). The IUCN and BirdLife list the species as Vulnerable on the Red List. Between 1500-2000 Saunders's Gulls winter along Taiwan's central west coast.

The Saunders's Gull inhabits estuarine mudflats and so has largely the same habitat requirements as that of the Taiwan Humpback Dolphin. It winters on Taiwan's west coast in the same areas as the humpback dolphins are found. As we stand on the edge of a precipice with the fate of the Taiwan Humpback dolphins in our hands. If we act to save these dolphins now, we may be able to pull them back from the brink, but if we don't and the dolphins plunge over the edge into extinction, species like the Saunders's Gull, will be following in their wake. As you read this on your computer screen, in all probability, many parts of your PC come from factories on Taiwan's west coast where so-called industry and development are pushing these dolphins and gulls over the edge into extinction. You may be on the otherside of the world but the chances are you are part of the problem. You need to speak out now and get the Taiwanese authorities and industry to act responsibly and do something decisive to save the Taiwan humpback dolphins and the other creatures of Taiwan's west coast.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter"
Martin Luther King, Jr.

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