Conservation and Management of the Asian Crested Ibis in China
Institute for Environmental Culture, 559-4-223 Sakusabe-cho, Inage, Chiba, Japan
During the latter half of the 20th century, due to environmental destruction, agricultural modernization, and excessive hunting, the population of the Asian Crested Ibis (Nipponia nippon), once distributed widely in Japan, China, Korea, and Russia’s Ussuri region, has declined dramatically. As a result, there have been no reported sightings of the Asian Crested Ibis since 1963 in Russia and since 1979 in Korea. In the case of Japan, the last 5 remaining wild Asian Crested Ibises were captured for captive breeding purpose, but due to unfortunate circumstances, the last Asian Crested Ibis died in October 2003, resulting in failure of the project. In the case of China, although no sightings were reported since 1964 for those once inhabiting northeast, northwest and southwest China, when its extinction was about to be declared in May 1981, 7 wild Asian Crested Ibises, including 3 chicks, were discovered in Yang Xian, deep in the Qin Lin Mountains in Shanxi Province. This news attracted worldwide attention. To conserve those remaining wild population and their habitat, China quickly established a centralized conservation framework. In the 26 years of this conservation policy, the original 7 individuals increased to 600 and, with the captive breeding population, the total population now exceeds 1,000. Thanks to steady progress in reintroduction to its original habitat and in research, the Asian Crested Ibis has been moved from the Critically Endangered to the Endangered List. Although the habitat of the Asian Crested Ibis has expanded with its wild population, issues on acquirements for foraging sites, conservation, and management of its habitat remain as conflicts arise between economic development and environmental conservation. A long-term conservation plan is thus needed that considers both the conservation of the Asian Crested Ibis habitat and benefits to local residents.
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