Re question of hunters in China

To: Peter Shute <>
Subject: Re question of hunters in China
From: Adrian Boyle <>
Date: Fri, 5 Aug 2011 11:06:03 +0800
Hi Peter

Yes you were correct in your interpretation. Hunters that once caught birds to 
sell in the markets now conduct research on a local reserve.

In the late 80,s early 90's there was little research conducted in parts of 
Asia in regards to banding of Shorebirds. Hence the starting of leg flagging in 
the 90's meaning that researchers like myself could go into areas and look for 
these colour flags and get an insight into what populations use particular 
areas at certain times of the year, identify important areas and also obtain 
turn over rates for the birds.

In the 90's Chongming Dao (Island) off Shanghai was thought to be a very 
important area for migratory birds as thats where we were getting lots of band 
recoveries from. These were from birds at the markets that had been captured by 
the hunters on the mudflats.
Numbers of hunters and birds caught varied from year to year but during March 
and April in 1991 it was estimated that between 23,800 and 37,900 birds were 
caught and sold. The 2 common species were Great Knot and Bar-tailed Godwits.

Once the reserve was set up due to researchers providing pressure on the 
government and statistics of how important this area is for migratory birds  
the catching was banned.

Thanks to counts, and being able to identify individuals in the area we learnt 
that Chongming is a very important area for birds in bad weather eg when there 
is a head wind or thick fog. 
If the weather is clear or birds are getting a tail wind then they keep flying 
further north to their main feeding areas.
Birds would land and stay for only a few days until the weather had cleared and 
then move onto better feeding grounds such as Bohai Bay and Yalu Jiang near the 
North Korean Border.
To obtain this data ex hunters were employed by the reserve to use traditional 
methods for catching the birds. The birds were then handed over to the 

I was working at the reserve in 2006 and we were keen to get weight data on the 
arrivals of the shorebirds. We employed 2 ex hunters and back then the hunters 
were actually paid by the weight of the birds. This was inline with what they 
would have been paid a few years before at the markets.
After the hunting season (March and April)  the hunters would go back to the 
farms and mainly grow rice and water melons.

Now days the hunters are employed full time by the reserve and are given a 
wage. Their time is also spent fixing board walks, erecting signs for the 
thousands of tourists that now visit (It is very popular for weddings), weed 
eradication, and enforcing the law.

In 2006 a hunter was caught with 20 dead Great Knot . I asked what would happen 
to him and they told me that because he had taken more than 12 birds that he 
would be given 6 months in jail.
I said six months!!!!!!!!!!!!!  They replied YOU THINK NOT HARSH 
ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!  I then said no no that should be fine.

So Peter I hope that does answer you question.
It really is a great example of what conservation in some areas can achieve and 
I like Heather am reminded of this when I see the Black and White flags on 
Shorebirds and think if bands were not put on in the first place and 
researchers had not put in the effort to study the hunting pressure leading to 
a reserve being created we could easily now be seeing nearly 38,000 Shorebirds 
vanishing into a pot.

Cheers Adrian Boyle

On 05/08/2011, at 8:10 AM, Peter Shute wrote:

> Heather, can you please expand on the paragraph I've quoted below. I'm 
> interpreting this as possibly meaning that it's the same people who were 
> hunting them before who are now flagging them, or helping to flag them? Is 
> that correct, or am I being too optimistic?
> Peter Shute
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From:  
>>  On Behalf Of 
>> Heather Gibbs
>> Sent: Friday, 5 August 2011 9:40 AM
>> To: 
>> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Results of the First Large-scale 
>> Study into Mist Netting
>> On a much brighter note, some wader-flagging study projects 
>> in this flyway
>> have been implemented in place of shorebird hunting.  So, for 
>> example, every
>> time I see a bird with black and white flags (indicating that 
>> it came from
>> Chongming Dao, an island near Shanghai in China) it is a 
>> tangible reminder
>> that these birds, which would once have been sold at local 
>> markets for food,
>> are now being released alive with colour flags instead.
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