(Photo by Huang Qiusheng/AFP/Getty Images
These Yellow-breasted Buntings (Emberiza aureola) were rescued from a trapping site in Forshan, in China's Guangdong province.
'being eaten to extinction in China'
Photo: Hong Kong Bird Watchers Society
The Yellow-breasted Bunting has gone from being one of the most abundant birds in Europe and Asia to near-extinction status because of Chinese culinary consumption.
Yellow-breasted Bunting population has dropped by 90% since 1980. The IUCN ( International Union for the Conservation of Nature), until 2004, had considered the Yellow-breasted Bunting to be of 'least concern'. However, in 2004, the IUCN changed the status to 'near threatened'. In 2008, it was up-listed again to 'vulnerable'. Latest research has now shown an even rarer status, with the bird's status now being 'endangered'. In Europe, the bunting has experienced rapid declines in population that appear to exceed 80% in just three generations. It is therefore classified as 'Critically Endangered' in European countries and is on the verge of extinction. Because many populations have dropped rapidly on pristine breeding grounds, the decline is likely to be driven by excessive trapping at migration, particularly at wintering sites. Consumption of the Yellow-breasted Bunting has increased because of economic growth and prosperity in east Asia. An estimate concludes that in 2001, 1 million buntings were consumed in China's southern Guangdong province alone. Dr. Johannes Kamp from the university of Munster, said in statement released by Birdlife International that "High levels of hunting also appear to be responsible for the declines we are seeing in Yellow-breasted Buntings". Parallels are being drawn between the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon in 1914, due to massive hunting efforts, and this migratory bunting, also known as the "rice bird".
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