Wildlife Conservation in Taiwan

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  • International Conservation News


    Conservation Biology, Pages 834838Volume 11, No. 4, August 1997

    Wildlife Conservation in Taiwan


    Taiwan is located on the Tropic ofCancer and is separated from themainland by the Taiwan Strait, whichhas a minimum width of 130 km. Ithas an area of 36,000 km


    and is dom-inated by rugged mountainous terrainwith remarkable diversity of fauna andflora. More than a century ago, natural-ists Swinhoe and Wallace conductedsurveys of wildlife in Taiwan, and theyrecorded about 36 species of mam-mals and 187 species of birds (Swin-hoe 1863; Wallace 1880). Accordingto recent surveys, Taiwan harborsnearly 4000 species of vascular plants,61 species of mammals, 400 species ofbirds, 92 species of reptiles, 30 spe-cies of amphibians, 140 species offreshwater fish, and an estimated50,000 insect species, including 400species of butterflies (Yang 1993;Boufford et al. 1996; P. H. J. Su, un-published data). Over the last decade,the government of the Republic ofChina on Taiwan has been keenly con-cerned about the rapid industrialgrowth and its impact on natural re-sources (Chang et al. 1989; M. H. Sun,unpublished data). To date, 6 nationalparks, 18 nature reserves, and 24 na-ture protected areas have been desig-nated to ensure protection for wildlifeand their habitats (Yang 1993). Theprotected area covers 440,290 ha,12.2% of the total land area of Taiwan.During the last 6 years, major wildlifeconservation programs have been inprogress. We present our evaluationof the achievements of the govern-ment of Taiwan and the problems itfaces in implementing its policies.

    Recently Lost Mammals

    During the early 1600s, the Sika deer(

    Cervus nippon taiouanus

    ) that roamedthe coastal plains of Taiwan num-bered in the thousands. Large-scalehunting of sika deer started duringthe Dutch colonial period between1624 and 1661 and continued untilthe Japanese occupation between1895 and 1945 (Hsieh 1964; Patel &Lin 1989). Sika deer became ex-tinct in the wild during late 1960sas a result of intensive hunting andexpansion of agricultural activities(McCullough 1974). The only mega-bat, the Formosan flying fox (

    Ptero-pus dasymallus formosus

    ), was com-mon previously on a 15-km


    islandknown as Green Island. This speciesbecame extinct in recent years be-cause of severe hunting, deforesta-tion, and habitat alteration (M. J. Hsu,unpublished data). The Formosanclouded leopard (

    Neofelis nebulosabrachyurus

    ) has not been sighted inseveral years and may be extinct inthe wild (Rabinowitz 1988).

    Protection of Species

    In 1989 Taiwan enacted its WildlifeConservation Law (1989) to give pro-tection to endangered species. AllAppendix I fauna and most AppendixII fauna listed in the Convention onInternational Trade in EndangeredSpecies of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES) are protected by this law. Inaddition, several species of nativewildlife, including 16 mammals, 80birds, 39 reptiles, 13 amphibians, 6

    fish, and 19 invertebrates, have beenprotected by the wildlife conserva-tion law. Although Chiroptera repre-sents the largest order of mammals inTaiwan, the extinct flying fox is theonly species included in the protec-tion list. Little is known about the sta-tus, distribution, and ecology of 19other species of microbats that occurin Taiwan, and priority should begiven to protecting these neglectedmammals from extinction (Hsu 1996).

    Taiwan is not a member of theUnited Nations and is therefore ineli-gible to be a party to CITES. But Tai-wan strongly supports internationaltreaties to halt trafficking of endan-gered species. The Council of Agricul-ture serves as the equivalent to theCITES Scientific Authority and, to-gether with the Board of ForeignTrade, serves as the equivalent tothe Management Authority. TaiwansWildlife Conservation Law stipulatesthat anyone who is found to have soldor displayed protected animals shallbe subjected to imprisonment for upto 2 years or a fine up to New Taiwan$20,000 (approximately US $720).The strict regulation and higher pen-alty have strongly discouraged viola-tors in recent years (Yang 1993).

    The species that has attracted themost attention is a game animal, thesika deer. A project was carried outto restore this species in its naturalhabitat. In November 1986, 22 deerwere selected for captive breeding,and these animals were released intoa large enclosure with forest habitat(Wang 1991). By 1990 the deer pop-ulation had reached 60, and the firstgroup was reintroduced in Kenting

  • International Conservation News


    Conservation BiologyVolume 11, No. 4, August 1997

    National Park. The sika deer rein-troduction project in Kenting Na-tional Park has increased conserva-tion awareness among the people ofTaiwan. But there are possibilitiesfor future conflict between humaninhabitants who live in and aroundthe national park and the deer, whichhave no natural enemies.

    The largest of the deer, the Formo-san sambar deer (

    Cervus unicolorswinhoei

    ), was also hunted inten-sively before 1989. Now this deer isfound only in higher mountain re-gions where human accessibility isdifficult. This species is not in dan-ger, but data on their population sta-tus is urgently needed.

    Another game animal, the Formo-san Reeves muntjac (

    Muntiacus reev-esi micrurus

    ), has been hunted by lo-cal aborigines for meat and fur fordecades. Intensive hunting pressure,driven by market demand for meat,increased prior to 1989, which re-sulted in the decline of the popula-tion (Pei 1991). Passage and enforce-ment of the wildlife conservation lawplayed a role in reviving the muntjacpopulation; recent surveys indicate awide distribution of these endemicdeer from low to high elevations. TheFormosan wild boar (

    Sus scrofa tai-vana

    ) is not a protected species andis distributed from low to high eleva-tion up to 3000 m. Wild boars havebeen causing extensive damage to ag-ricultural crops and forest plantations.

    Given their high reproductive rateand lack of natural predators, the wildboar and Reeves muntjac could beexploited in the future if the govern-ment develops an effective manage-ment system of sustainable use (Pei1991; Pei et al. 1995). Although thecurrent ban on hunting wild animalsprohibits aborigines from hunting intheir traditional hunting grounds, amanagement plan could allow thesecommunities to practice traditionalhunting on a sustained-yield basis.For many reasons, however, liftingthe ban could be problematic. Forinstance, it is not easy for the gov-ernment to lift a ban on the huntingof one species and retain the ban for

    other species. Until and unless thegovernment reviews the populationstatus of these game animals thor-oughly and develops a comprehen-sive management plan, it will be dif-ficult to practice sustainable use ofwild animals in Taiwan.

    Bears have been valued in Asia forcenturies as food and for use in med-icines. The Formosan black bear (

    Se-lenarctos thibetanus formosanus

    )is native to Taiwan and inhabits therugged mountains to the east (Wang& Wang 1990). Although the popula-tion status of the black bear is un-known, surveys conducted between1988 and 1990 indicated the pres-ence of bears in the Central MountainRange at elevations of 2003500 m.The Species Survival CommissionsCaptive Breeding Specialist Group,in collaboration with local biologistsand zoo professionals, conducted apopulation viability analysis for theFormosan black bear during 1994 (Seal1994). Captive breeding of bears isimportant for potential future rein-troduction. It is essential, however,that we get an estimate of the popu-lation status and density of wild bearsthroughout Taiwan if effective pro-tection is to be given to remaininghabitat and wild living bears.

    There have been recent reports ondamage to agricultural crops by wildanimals such as ducks, wild boars,and monkeys (B. C. Hsia, unpub-lished data). The Formosan macaque,a protected species, has been blamedmainly for damaging mango, banana,orange, and dragon fruit crops. Con-flicts between monkeys and humansare also occurring because the habi-tats of monkeys have been alteredfor the expansion of agricultural farmsand human habitation. It is essentialto set up a task force of agriculturalscientists, wildlife managers, villagechiefs, and government officials to in-vestigate the extent of damage causedby monkeys to crops so that man-agement decisions can be made. Be-fore the conservation law was passed,monkeys were captured from thewild for the pet trade. Since 1989,trapping of monkeys is prohibited.

    Local government agencies, with thehelp of wildlife managers, should ex-plore possibilities for relocating crop-raiding monkeys to other forest ar-eas where the macaque populationis low. Several islets around Taiwancould provide ideal homes for pestmonkeys. But the idea of island re-lease should be tested first on an ex-perimental basis. Furthermore, in Tai-wan the Formosan macaques havebeen used illegally for medical ex-periments related to eye and dentalsurgery (Lee 1991). The Council of Ag-riculture, the National Science Coun-cil, and the Department of Healthshould develop joint guidelines forthe legal use of Formosan macaquesin medical research. Strict welfareguidelines should also be developedfor institutions wishing to breed orhouse captive macaques for experi-mental use. Currently, there are nolaws related to laboratory animal ex-perimentation and the welfare ofcaptive wild animals.

    Education and Publicity

    Several government and nongovern-ment agencies are promoting environ-mental education awareness throughthe use of interpretive facilities, schoolprograms, and publications. Trainingprograms and ecocamps are beingregularly organized by experts. Somenongovernmental organizations re-ceive financial support from the gov-ernment to carry out specific conser-vation projects. Both government andnongovernment agencies also coop-erate with local citizens to promotethe concept of nature conservation.Protected areas have one or more vis-itor centers to promote nature conser-vation through audio-visual presenta-tions, exhibitions, and informationservices. All national parks and na-ture reserves have interpretive trailsequipped with signs or exhibitions.Usually, national parks receive be-tween several thousand and a fewmillion visitors every year; for exam-ple, Kenting National Park is visitedby three million people annually.

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    Unfortunately, community-based en-vironmental educational programs forpeople who live in and around thenational parks and protected areasare few and ineffective. For example,every dry season forest fires are beingcaused intentionally by local peoplewho live in and around Kenting Na-tional Park, southern Taiwan, andpark guards have often collected birdand mammal traps from the park. Itis vital to develop community-basedconservation education programs andother projects extending economicincentives to people who live aroundKenting and other national parks inTaiwan. Protected areas such as Kent-ing National Park have played a cru-cial role in preserving natural re-sources, but doubts have been raisedabout their continued effectivenessas they become islands of nature inlandscapes managed unsustainably(Ishwaran 1994).


    With increases in the developmentof the industrial sector, economicgrowth, expansion of agriculturalfarms, and exploitation of natural re-sourceswith the limited conserva-tion activities of the 1970s and1980sthe government realized theneed to decelerate the loss of wild-life species and their habitats in Tai-wan. The first national park, Kent-ing, was established in 1984 toprotect lowland forest and marineecosystems. The Endemic SpeciesResearch Institute, a government or-ganization dedicated to wildlife con-servation, was established in NantouCounty in 1992. This new institutehas been surveying wildlife habitats,preparing inventories of flora andfauna, and monitoring the flora andfauna in selected field stations at dif-ferent elevations (Perng 1995). TheCouncil of Agriculture also supportsworkshops, training courses, andconferences (Yang 1993). Biologistsfrom universities, nongovernmentalorganizations, and research institu-tions have been conducting field

    studies on various species of faunaand flora (e.g., Hsu & Lin 1994,1997).

    Although the government of Tai-wan is attempting to preserve its nat-ural resources, a lack of experiencedscientists in the government is a ma-jor problem. Government regulationshinder recruitment of qualified scien-tists, so university professors oftenprovide advice on wildlife conserva-tion and management policies. Be-cause academicians do not bear re-sponsibility for implementation ofpolicies, there is little pressure forthem to consider political realitiesand constraints.

    Literature Cited

    Boufford, D. E., C. F. Hsieh, T. C. Huang, H.Ohasi, Y. P. Yang, and S. Y. Lu. 1996. Floraof Taiwan. 2nd edition. Editorial Commit-tee of the Flora of Taiwan, Taipei.

    Chang, Y. C., P. C. Chiang, Y. P. Chu, H.Hsiao, and L. L. Severinghaus. 1989. Tai-wan 2000. Balancing economic growthand environmental protection. SteeringCommittee of the Taiwan 2000 Study. Ac-ademia Sinica, Taipei.

    Hsieh, C. M. 1964. Taiwan-ilha Formosa: a ge-ography in perspectives. Butterworth,London.

    Hsu, M. J. 1996. On the occurrence of micro-bats in Taiwan. Bat Research News


    108110.Hsu, J. M., and Y. S. Lin. 1994. The annual cy-

    cle of the Chinese bulbul (

    Pycnonotussinensi fonnosae

    ) in Taiwan. Acta-Zoolog-ica Taiwanica


    3339.Hsu, J. M., and Y. S. Lin. 1997. Breeding ecol-

    ogy of Styans bulbul (

    Pycnonotus taiva-nus

    ) in Taiwan. Ibis


    : in Press.Ishwaran, N. 1994. The role of protected ar-

    eas in promoting sustainable develop-ment. Parks


    27.Lee, L. L. 1991. A review of the recent re-

    search on

    Macaca cyclopis

    . Pages 289304 in Proceedings of the first interna-tional symposium on wildlife conserva-tion. Council of Agriculture Publication,Taipei, Taiwan.

    McCullough, D. R. 1974. Status of larger mam-mals in Taiwan. Tourism Bureau, Taipei,Taiwan.

    Patel, A. D., and Y. S. Lin. 1989. History ofwildlife conservation in Taiwan. Forestryseries report no. 20. Council of Agricul-ture, Taipei, Taiwan.

    Pei, K. C. J. 1991. Management of the Formo-san Reeves muntjac (

    Muntiacus reevesimicrurus

    ). Proceedings of the first inter-national symposium on wildlife conserva-

    tion. Pages 305317 in Council of Agricul-ture Publication, Taipei, Taiwan.

    Pei, K., R. D. Taber, B. W. OGara, and Y.Wang. 1995. Breeding cycle of the Formo-san Reeves muntjac (

    Muntiacus reevesimicrurus

    ) in northern Taiwan, Republicof China. Mammalia


    4652.Perng, K. D. 1995. Taiwan endemic species

    research institute: inventory, research, con-servation and education. Taiwan EndemicSpecies Research Institute, Chichi Town-ship, Taiwan.

    Rabinowitz, A. 1988. The clouded leopard inTaiwan. Oryx


    4647.Seal, U. 1994. Asiatic black bear (


    ). Population and habitat viabil-ity assessment. Taipei Zoo, Taipei, Taiwan,(in collaboration with IUCN/SSC CaptiveBreeding Specialist Group and IUCN/SSCBear Specialist Group).

    Swinhoe, R. 1863. The ornithology of For-mosa, or Taiwan. Ibis:198219, 250311,377, 435.

    Wallace, A. R. 1880. Island life. MacMillan,London.

    Wang, Y. 1991. Current status of Formosansika deer restoration program. Pages 277288 in Proceedings of the first interna-tional symposium on wildlife conserva-tion. Council of Agriculture Publication,Taipei, Taiwan (in Chinese).

    Wang, Y., and G. B. Wang. 1990. Ecologicalinvestigations and management strategiesof Formosan black bears. Report no. 10.Council of Agriculture, Taipei, Taiwan (inChinese).

    Wildlife Conservation Law. 1989. Republic ofChinas Wildlife Conservation Law 13266.Government of the Republic of China onTaiwan.

    Yang, H. L. 1993. Nature conservation in Tai-wan ROC. Council of Agriculture, Taipei,Taiwan.

    Minna J. Hsu

    Department of Biology, Graduate Institute of LifeSciences, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsi-ung 80424, Taiwan, email hsumin@mail.nsysu.edu.tw

    Govindasamy Agoramoorthy

    P.O. Box 59157, Kaohsiung 80424, PingtungRescue Center for Endangered Wild Animals, Na-tional Pingtung Polytechnic Institute, Taiwan

    Conservation of Terrestrial Arthropods on Easter Island as Exemplified by the Beetle Fauna

    Easter Island, or Isla de Pascua (Chile),famous for its cultural heritage, isalso one of the most isolated refer-

  • International Conservation News


    Conservation BiologyVolume 11, No. 4, August 1997

    ence sites for island biogeographi-cal studies. The small triangular is-land of only 118 km


    , known to itsPolynesian inhabitants as the mostisolated place on Earth or the navelof the world, is situated 3700 kmwest of the Chilean coast, 2200 kmeast of the islands of the Pitcairngroup, and about 4000 km east ofTahiti. Its extreme isolation resultsin a depauperate terrestrial flora andfauna. Easter Island is of volcanic ori-gin, has been available for coloniza-tion for about 3 million years, andhas a subtropical oceanic climatewith slight annual variation. Thehighest volcano culminates around500 m. Habitat diversity is low andhas been extremely influenced byhumans. Nothing is left of the natu-ral woodland that probably oncecovered the island.

    The earliest checklist of the terres-trial fauna of this remote island datesfrom only 1963 (Kuschel 1963). Atthat time the entire fauna was knownto contain as few as 79 species, ofwhich some 11 species belongedonly to the Coleoptera, or beetles. G.Kuschel, a beetle specialist, concludedthat the cosmopolitan element in theEaster Island beetle fauna was highand that there were some Austral-asian (Pacific) and a few endemicspecies. Ten years later, Campos andPena (1973) prospected the islandand updated the checklist of insectsto 142, including 28 beetles. Pena(1987) interpreted the apparentlygrowing number of known insects asa sign of increasing introductions.

    In December 1993 we sampled asmany habitats and microhabitats ofEaster Island as possible for terrestrialarthropods, with an emphasis on bee-tles (Coleoptera) and spiders (Ara-neida). With the help of other special-ist beetle taxonomists we identified atotal of 44 beetle species (some onlyto genus or family level), raising theEaster Island beetle fauna from 28 tono less than 56 (Desender & Baert1996


    , 1996


    ). Our intensive sam-pling effort can probably only partlyexplain this spectacular increase.

    An analysis of the ecology and bio-

    geographic origin of the Easter Islandbeetle fauna shows that the majorityare widespread species. Our addi-tions to the fauna are, for the mostpart, species that have probably beenintroduced recently. They appear tooriginate mainly from the South Amer-ican mainland. In addition to thesespecies, two exotic dung beetle spe-cies are now abundant on the island.These beetles were deliberately intro-duced into Chile (including Easter Is-land) in 1990 by agronomists in orderto enhance manure degradation as acontrol measure against fly pestsbreeding in the dung of domestic ani-mals. Growing imported cattle herdsovergraze nearly all of Easter Island.

    The beetle fauna also includes ap-proximately five Pacific beetles and,contrary to earlier ideas, probably noendemics. Although Pacific specieswith a high dispersal power mighthave colonized this remote island bynatural means, at least some of thesespecies could have been introducedin ancient times by the Polynesianswhile they were exploring the Pa-cific. Many introductions of plants,possibly with associated insects orsoil-inhabiting arthropods, may havetaken place, while more natural habi-tats were degraded or destroyed. Forinstance, the click beetle (

    Simodacty-lus delfini

    ), previously known onlyfrom Easter Island, was recently dis-covered on Henderson (Pitcairn Is-lands; Benton 1995) and could be anexample of such a Polynesian con-nection. The weevil (


    ), although still only knownfrom Easter Island, could also havebeen introduced in ancient times: ithas been collected mainly under barkof

    Broussonetia papyrifera

    , a Polyne-sian tree species probably introducedto Easter Island in ancient times(Zizka 1990). The history of humanoccupation on Easter Island, with es-timates of prehistoric human popula-tions of as much as 7000 (Disalvo etal. 1988), lends strong support to thishypothesis.

    Most recently, the island has appar-ently been suffering from an exponen-tially increasing number of introduced

    insects. There is a continuous trans-port from Chile by the Chilean Ar-mada, irregular visits of U.S. Navyvesselsespecially from Hawaiigrowing tourism, and normal trafficof Pascuan inhabitants from and toTahiti or Chile. Pascuan inhabitantsdo not seem aware of the problemsof nature conservation.

    Because natural terrestrial habi-tats and their fauna have been de-stroyed nearly completely on EasterIsland, we conclude that the poten-tially high intrinsic value for biogeo-graphic and evolutionary ecologicalstudies of this extremely isolatedin theory uniqueisland has beenreduced dramatically. We thereforerecommend that scientists not usedata on the terrestrial fauna of this is-land in any future island biogeo-graphic study without considerationof these problems.

    Literature Cited

    Benton, T. G. 1995. Biodiversity and biogeog-raphy of Henderson Islands insects. Bio-logical Journal of the Linnean Society


    245259.Campos, L., and L. E. Pena. 1973. Los insectos

    de Isla de Pascua (Resultados de unaprospeccin entomolgica). Revista Chil-ena de Entomologia


    217-229.Desender, K., and L. Baert. 1996


    . Easter Is-land revisited: Carabid beetles (Coleoptera:Carabidae). Coleopterists Bulletin



    Desender, K., and L. Baert. 1996


    . The Co-leoptera of Easter Island. Bulletin van hetKoninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuur-wetenschappen. Entomologie


    2750. Disalvo, L. H., J. E. Randall, and A. Cea. 1988.

    Ecological reconnaissance of the Easter Is-land sublittoral marine environment. Na-tional Geographic Research


    451473. Kuschel, G. 1963. Composition and relation-

    ship of the terrestrial faunas of Easter, JuanFernandez, Desventuradas, and GalpagosIslands. Occasional Papers of the CaliforniaAcademy of Sciences


    7996. Pea, L. E. 1987. Consideraciones sobre la

    fauna de artropodos terrestres de las IslasOceanicas Chilenas. Pages 217223 in J. L.Castilla, editor. Islas Oceanicas Chilenas:conocimiento cientifico y necesidades deinvestigaciones. Universidad Catolica deChile, Santiago.

    Zizka, G. 1990. De natuurlijke historie van hetPaaseiland. Pages 2138 in A. Graf VonBothmer-Plates, H. Esen-Baur, D. F. Sauer,F. Forment, M. Lambrecht, and M. Ruys-

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    sinck, editors. Paaseiland: een raadsel?Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Brussels, Bel-gium.

    Konjev Desender and Leon Baert

    Department of Entomology, Royal Belgian In-stitute of Natural Sciences, Vautierstraat 29,B-1000 Brussels, Belgium, email kdesender@kbinirsnb.be

    Cabo Pulmo Reef: A New Marine Reserve in the Gulf of California

    The Cabo Pulmo coral reef in theGulf of California became the only of-ficially protected coral reef on thecontinental Pacific coast of Mexico inJune 1995, when it was declared aprotected zone by the Mexican Gov-ernment under the category of ParqueMarino Nacional. The reef was firstdescribed in the 1940s, and its impor-tance as a unique ecosystem of theGulf of California has been recog-nized ever since.

    The new park covers 7111 ha, only450 ha of which are represented by

    coral reef. The pulmo reef is charac-terized by a high species richness(more than 400 marine vertebrateand invertebrate species, almost 100marine algae), although no endemicsare known. Live coral have averaged3035% from 1986 to 1994, even af-ter mild coral bleachings occurred in1987 and 1988. Following detailedstudies on several marine groups (ma-croalgae, stony and soft corals, poly-chaetes, mollusks, echinoderms, andfishes) the Laboratorio de Ecologiadel Bentos del Universidad Aunto-noma de Baja California Sur (UABCS)proposed its inclusion in the RegistroNacional de Areas Protegiudas.

    Mexican authorities also recognizethat the reef requires protection be-cause of the potential and actual dam-age to this system caused by develop-ers, divers, and sport fishermen. Inthe last 10 years, for example thenumber of visitors to the reef hasmore than tripled, and, as a conse-quence, the number of coral coloniesbroken or killed by anchor damage or

    inexperienced divers has increasedsignificantly.

    A management plan to addressthese and other threats is being devel-oped by UABCS and several officialdepartments. The plan will also iden-tify measures to avoid further damageto the coral and the marine coimmu-nity, including, for instance, the useof mooring buoys to avoid anchordamage to corals, a rotation systemfor dive sites, and the designation ofexclusive fishing zones far from themain reef. Cabo Pulmo Reefs desig-nation as a marine national parkopens possibilities for the area to beused for research, recreation, and do-mestic fisheries, but the park will sus-tainably support these activities onlyat low levels.

    Hctor Reyes Bonilla

    Universidad Auntonoma de Baja California Sur,Depatremento de Biologia Marina, Azpartadopostal 19-B, CP 23080, La Paz, Baja California Sur,Mexico


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