Monday, March 31, 2008

Buzzards and Butterflies - ecotourism opportunities going begging

A pair of Grey-faced Buzzard over Baguashan late yesterday afternoon. We spotted more then a thousand from our little observation hide yesterday afternoon along with a few Crested Serpent Eagle, Oriental Honey Buzzard, and Crested Goshawk.

Taiwan plunged 22 places on the Geneva-based World Economic Forum's (WEF) Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report for 2008. With more focus on environmental sustainability this year, Taiwan only managed to achieve the 103rd place for natural resources which sealed the nation's abysmal score.

From mid March to mid April west-central Taiwan hosts two spectacular natural events. Beginning in mid March thousands of raptors, mostly Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus and Chinese Sparrowhawk Accipiter soloensis, migrate through Taiwan on their journey north and gather around the Baguashan area in west-central Taiwan. Starting in late March one of the largest butterfly migrations on the planet unfolds as multitudes of Purple Crow Butterflies (Euploea genus) migrate through Huben, Hushan and Ping Ding.

Most people have never heard of these amazing events. That's not surprising considering that very little effort is made by the Taiwan Government to promote these events internationally and develop the ecotourism potential they offer. We've yet to see a single foreign face other than a Taiwan-based foreign naturalist at both these events this year. It was the same story last year and the year before.

The authorities should really be looking at the ecotourism potential of the Huben-Hushan area and the adjoining Baguashan area rather than trashing these environmentally important areas and using them as an opportunity to breathe new life into Taiwan's declining tourism industry.

A Grey-faced Buzzard over Baguashan yesterday.

Not specs of dust. Grey-faced Buzzard high over Baguashan yesterday.

Huben and the Purple Butterflies

A Brief History of Grey-Faced Buzzard Conservation in Taiwan

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