Long-ab­sent, gulls re­turn to Sanya

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By LIU XIAOLI in Haikou li­ux­i­aoli@chi­nadaily.com.cn

About 44 ju­ve­nile terns, all ar­ti­fi­cially in­cu­bated, ar­rived re­cently in their new home in Sanya, the trop­i­cal re­sort city of Hainan prov­ince, af­ter a four-day jour­ney from Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince.

The move was part of a project to re­vive the bird species’ habi­tat. The terns will be do­mes­ti­cated be­fore be­ing re­leased to the sky. Ar­ti­fi­cial prop­a­ga­tion of the birds will also be car­ried out.

Sanya and nearby wa­ters were once home to a large pop­u­la­tion of gull species, in­clud­ing seag­ulls and terns.

The project was ini­ti­ated by the Blue Rib­bon Ocean Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety in March. It’s a non­profit group, es­tab­lished in Sanya in 2007, that fo­cuses on pro­tec­tion of the ocean en­vi­ron­ment.

“We have been to Zhe­jiang and Yun­nan prov­inces, as well as other places that were known as ideal habi­tats for seag­ulls and terns in China to in­ves­ti­gate, and we talked with lo­cal ex­perts about the birds for sev­eral months. Fi­nally we de­cided to in­tro­duce birds from Qing­dao,” said Bian Yuqin, a so­ci­ety staff worker.

“All of the ju­ve­nile terns were in­cu­bated from eggs res­cued by the Qing­dao Wildlife Res­cue As­so­ci­a­tion from aban­doned nests or eggs that were on their way to din­ing ta­bles,” Bian said.

Zhang Ship­ing, the head of the as­so­ci­a­tion, who has been study­ing wild birds for more than 15 years, said the seag­ull is a kind of mi­gra­tory bird, so it would be pos­si­ble for them to live in Sanya. Terns, also a gull species, were cho­sen be­cause young wild seag­ulls can­not be do­mes­ti­cated, he said.

“I was wor­ried a lot that the birds would not sur­vive the long jour­ney to the new en­vi­ron­ment, but it seems that they took it very well and adapted to their new home quickly. I am re­lieved now: All of them are find­ing food in the feed trough we pre­pared,” Bian said.

The 44 terns, with the help of bird ex­perts, will be taught to rec­og­nize dif­fer­ent whis­tles and re­spond to com­mands — for ex­am­ple, be­ing told to go back to the cage.

Luo Ji­uru, an 81-year-old ex­pert on marine en­vi­ron­ments, who has called for bring­ing seag­ulls back to Sanya for decades, was ex­cited to see terns in Sanya again. She wit­nessed seag­ulls in the skies in the 1970s.

“Sanya is now un­der­tak­ing an ecol­ogy re­cov­ery project. Rivers are cleaner, more trees and grasses are be­ing planted and the seag­ulls are be­ing seen in Sanya again,” Luo told Hainan Daily.

“Sanya has a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment now, and this makes the project much eas­ier,” she said.

WU WEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

Terns are adapt­ing to their new home in Sanya, Hainan prov­ince, af­ter a 3,300-kilo­me­ter jour­ney from Qing­dao, Shan­dong prov­ince.

Luo Ji­uru, 81-year-old ex­pert on marine en­vi­ron­ments

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