Martin W

    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:

    Dear All,

    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.

    Best wishes,

    Richard [Corlett]

    Department of Ecology & Biodiversity
    The University of Hong Kong
    Pokfulam Road

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