The local bird trade and its conservation impacts in the city of Guiyang, Southwest China

Abstract

China has a history and reputation of substantial exploitation of wildlife, and the harvest and trade of wild birds are common throughout the country, both for exportation and local demand. This study documents the diversity and quantity of birds being traded in the city of Guiyang, Southwest China, and evaluates its potential conservation effects. Data were collected through direct observations and through informal conversations on weekends in a public market between March 2014 and February 2015. In total, 206 species belonging to 40 families and 13 orders were recorded, with the family Turdidae having the largest species diversity observed (28 species). The number of individuals on sale was greatly variable among different species. Ashy-throated parrotbills (Paradoxornis alphonsianus) were the most encountered birds, mainly driven by the practice of bird fighting, followed by Acridotheres cristatellus, Garrulax canornus, Zosterops japonicas, Zosterops palpebrosa, Zosterops erythropleurus, Rhyacornis fuliginosus, Emberiza elegans, Leiothrix lutea and Phoenicurus auroreus, which are all common and native to Guiyang. Our data indicated that at least 2000 individuals have been traded in one year for each of these species. We argue that the current bird trade raises a serious potential threat of over-exploitation of these species, especially due to bird fighting and hunting during the breeding season, as well as raising further potential threats of invasive species spread and disease transmission. Measures to control the trade are discussed here, and environmental education could be the most effective. This study highlights the significance of paying more attention to the domestic bird trade in the subtropical region.

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Acknowledgement

Many thanks must be given to Per Alstrom and Gang Song in Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, for their help in species identification. We thank Tiejun Xiao and Xiaowen Liu for their help in improving the English language. We also thank the anonymous reviewers and editors whose suggestions significantly improved the manuscript. This study was funded by NSFC (31401965) and Natural Science Foundation of Guizhou Province, China (2013[2250]).

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Correspondence to Chuanyin Dai.

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Editor: James Pittock.

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Dai, C., Zhang, C. The local bird trade and its conservation impacts in the city of Guiyang, Southwest China. Reg Environ Change 17, 1763–1773 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-017-1141-5

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Keywords

  • Southwest China
  • Wild bird trade
  • Conservation concern
  • Bird fight
  • Environmental education