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Scientist calls for ban on wild bird trade

2005-11-28 / central news agency /

A British scientist called for governments around the world yesterday to temporarily prohibit transactions of wild birds to help stem a possible pandemic of bird flu worldwide.
Marco Lambertini, network and programs director of BirdLife International, who is taking part in the International Symposium on Waterbirds, 2005, or the 27th Meeting of the International Waterbird Society being held in Tainan, southern Taiwan, said at a press conference that global transactions of wild birds, although not previously culprits in bird flu pandemics worldwide, should stop immediately as the world prepares to battle a possible pandemic.

Lambertini said that about 1 million wild birds are traded globally each year, while about 2 million other wild birds are smuggled worldwide.

Governments should not only crack down on smuggling of wild birds but should also move to stop the wild bird trade, since wild birds are mostly transported in cages that are also used to carry poultry and other birds, tremendously increasing the wild birds' chances of being infected, Lambertini said.

Liao Shih-ching, one of the chairmen of the International Symposium on Waterbirds, 2005, seconded Lambertini's remarks, saying that smuggling of wild birds is one of the reasons for the spread of bird flu worldwide.

The three-day symposium, with the theme: "Migration of Wild Birds and Avian Diseases, " kicked off in Tainan City Friday with some 200 scientists from 12 countries taking part, marking the first time that the International Waterbirds Society has held its general meeting in Asia.

The meeting attendees published a joint statement Sunday upon the conclusion of the symposium, announcing that out of some 90,000 wild bird biopsy samples collected worldwide over the past seven years, no trace of the highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus has been found in any of the samples.

They announced therefore, that bird watching is safe, since wild birds are safe.

They also noted that Taiwan is so far bird flu-free and is not an H5N1-affected area.

It is particularly significant that the society's 27th meeting was held in Tainan, the world's major sanctuary for the rare black-faced spoonbill - most of which migrate south to Taiwan to overwinter beginning each September.