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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Great-billed Heron: Poaching

Great-billed Heron: Poaching

The Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana), standing at 115 cm tall, has been claimed to be the tallest resident bird in Singapore (left). According to our bird specialist R. Subaraj, the Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus), is much taller at 122.5-129 cm. But then this stork is a non-breeding visitor to Singapore.

The Great-billed Heron is confined to rocky shores and mangroves, mainly on offshore islands and the west coast. It is also locally endangered with only about 20 plus birds left. Internationally, the bird is near-threatened.

You can imagine the concern and indignation among local nature buffs when they found that there is someone actively trying to catch this rare heron using a captive juvenile bird. The captive bird as well as the owner were photographed by Nick Baker’s neighbour at Queensway (see map, bottom). The tethered bird was seen in an open field (above) with the owner sitting nearby under the shade of a tree. Obviously he was waiting for his captive bird to lure another for capture (below). The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority was alerted but so far has not been able to meet with the person possessing the heron. Dr Lou Ek Hee, Head, Animal Welfare Regulations Branch, AVA, has written:

“My officers have gone down but did not see the individual or the bird. …In view of this, could I request that you contact my officers Mr Tan or Mr Lee should you see the individual with the bird again? Mr Tan's tel. is 6471 9996. Mr Lee's is 6471 7198. Thank you.”

Anyone seeing the man and his captive heron, please alert AVA. NOTE: Any member of the public who witnesses wildlife poaching in progress can contact the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) during office hours as follows :

AVA Wildlife Regulatory Branch:
Ms Lye Fong Keng - Tel : 6325 7349

Other contacts in the same branch include:
Mr Gerald Neo - Tel : 6325 7290
Ms Yvonne Low - Tel : 6325 7626

After hours or at weekend, we suggests you contact the Police directly. Inform the Police of the presence of 'suspicious characters', not mentioning poachers.

Input by Nick Baker and R. Subaraj, images obtained through Nick.

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At 9:48 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does using a juvenile Great-Billed Heron really helps to lure other Great-Billed for capture? Correct me if I am wrong but I thought Great-Billed Herons are solitary.

At 10:08 am, Blogger YC said...

I presume poachers know birds better than birders, especially this one. After all he did manage to catch one. The acid test would be the success of his method - if AVA does not act fast enough.

GB Heron move singly or in pairs.

At 6:18 pm, Blogger Benjamin said... makes one wonder if the
"poacher" knows the original habitat of the Great-billed Heron (GBH). Or was the bird was given to him? It is more believable if he was photographed in one of our southern islands using this ruse. What are the chances of catching a GBH in Queensway??? Someone should tell him they are not abundant as spotted doves!

At 10:34 pm, Blogger Ivan said...

It might sound far-fetched, but maybe it's a pet that he brought out for some sunshine and fresh air. *shrugs*

In any case, I hope we do find this guy. Poacher or not, the fact that he has a great-billed heron in his possession does warrant some questioning...


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