After news re Japanese White-eye and House Crow found dead, and with H5, in Kowloon, posted this to group re H5N1 and wild birds:
Yes, fitting pattern of last year I’m afraid. Both the white-eye and the house crow in urban Kowloon; house crow now a common resident in some parts of Kowloon (yet I’ve never seen one in HK! – rarely to the estates etc of Kln).
Last night, reporter at S China Morning Post emailed me shot of dead Red-whiskered Bulbul, requesting identification.
Today, on radio, heard mention re White-rumped Munia also found in Kowloon – Boundary Street. Near Mong Kok Bird Market, which being disinfected/checked, and where, reportedly, sales have halved in last few days (oh dear, how I sob…).
Haven’t seen re whether birds being checked for possibility of captive origin.
This email has been circulated in HK by an ecology prof:
I am talking to the Centre for Health Protection’s Scientific
Committee on Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases next Wednesday about
religious bird release. My main message will be that the half-million
or more birds imported and released every year are the most likely
origin of the urban H5N1 outbreaks in January-March 2006 and in 2007.
The species involved are either ones released in large numbers or
species that would predate or scavenge dead or dying birds. If anyone
thinks “most likely” is too strong, please could you provide more
likely alternatives within the next few days!
Talking to reporters over the last couple of days, I have the
impression that – while we all agree that importing huge numbers of
birds under dreadful conditions to release into unfamiliar
environments is a bad thing – we are giving out mixed messages on
what ought to be done about it. I would like to suggest that we all
agree on the EU’s solution, i.e. a permanent ban on the import of
wild-caught birds, with all captive-bred birds required to be fitted
with unique, traceable closed rings or microchips. If this was done
after consultation, and with perhaps a 1-year grace period, it should
cause nobody any hardship. Hong Kong can do without HK$4 birds.
It would only impact the high-volume low-profit-margin end of the
bird trade, since many of the most popular cage-birds are already
captive-bred and the parrots, at least, have numbered rings. The
massive improvement in bird welfare should please the Buddhists and –
I hope – they would have second thoughts about releasing more
expensive birds of obvious captive origin. I cannot see Beijing
or Guangzhou objecting, since much of the current trade is illegal
or barely legal under a variety of local and national laws.
Would WWF, TRAFFIC, HKBWS and/or KFBG be interested in drafting a
formal proposal on this that we could then all sign?
Feel free to pass this around, but please don’t reply to everybody
unselectively since it just clogs people’s mailboxes.
Department of Ecology & Biodiversity
The University of Hong Kong