Wednesday, December 02, 2015

.... it is estimated that more than 200 million animals are set free through this practice in Taiwan every year....

An electronic billboard flashes DPP candidate ads, KMT candidate ads, and ordinary ads, one after another.

From Su S, Cassey P, Vall-llosera M, Blackburn TM (2015) Going Cheap: Determinants of Bird Price in the Taiwanese Pet Market. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0127482. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0127482
Taiwan presents an excellent example for studying features of the bird trade in Asian countries [20]. First, cultural practices relating to the bird trade, such as prayer release, singing competitions and ‘bird-walking’ (the avian equivalent of dog-walking, where birds are taken out in cages for fresh air), are very popular in Taiwan. Prayer animal release is a common religious activity in Asia [20]: it is estimated that more than 200 million animals are set free through this practice in Taiwan every year [21,22]. Such a high frequency of releases may be an important factor contributing to invasions by alien bird species [5,23–26]. Second, Taiwan is a major wildlife trade hub from where species are re-exported to other Asian countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore [20,27,28]. Third, Taiwan is separated from the nearest continent by a >100 km ocean strait, meaning that it is relatively straightforward to define native versus alien species. Finally, alien bird species have proved to be a conservation threat in Taiwan through actual and potential hybridization with native bird species [29–31].
From The wildlife pet trade as a driver of introduction and establishment in alien birds in Taiwan. Shan Su, Phillip Cassey, Tim M. Blackburn Biol Invasions DOI 10.1007/s10530-015-1003-3
Taiwan has an extremely active trade in alien cage birds. More than 180,000 individuals of over 200 parrot species were imported there between 2001 and 2011, from 20 countries (Wong et al. 2012). In a survey in 1995, Severinghaus and Chi (1999) found that 6 % of the more than 68,000 prayer birds recorded for sale in Taiwan were alien species, but this had risen to more than 68 % of the 7634 birds recorded for sale in 2012 by Su et al. (2014). Taiwan also has a large number of alien bird species known from the wild: 90 species have been recorded at large there, of which at least 25 have been recorded breeding (see "Methods" section). More than 60 % of alien bird species found inthe wild are species known to have been traded in the Taiwanese pet market (Lee and Shieh 2005). We therefore predicted that the probability that an alien species is found in the wild in Taiwan is largely determined by the composition of the pet trade, and so depends on the same combination of societal demands and species availability that results in the mix of species in that trade (Su et al. 2015). We also predicted that availability determines the likelihood that an introduced species establishes a viable population, along with additional influences of the characteristics that relate to the likelihood that a species can cope with the Taiwanese environment.
From Ritual Releasing of Wild Animals Threatens Island Ecology Govindasamy Agoramoorthy, Minna J. Hsu. Human Ecology April 2007, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 251-254 First online: 29 November 2006
Ninety-three percent of the total population in Taiwan, adhere to one of the two major traditional religions: Buddhism and Taoism, which stress the importance of good deeds during a person’s life and decree that releasing animals back to nature is one of the ways to garner good karma. In recent years, the large numbers of wildlife that have been released into Taiwan’s wilderness areas by Buddhist and Taoist believers have alarmed even animal rights organizations. People in Taiwan are estimated to spend about USD 6 million a year to set free 200 million wild animals for religious reasons, including insects, fishes, birds, reptiles, and mammals.

A total of 2,007 temples and religious institutions were surveyed and 483 (24.1%) of them provided animal releasing services, mainly in outdoor areas (Table I). Only four temples released animals within their premises (Table I). The Eastern part of Taiwan and other offshore islands released a lower percentage (13–18%) of animals compared to the rest of Taiwan (24–25%). Since there is a huge market for the ritual animal release trade, various species of birds, fishes, snakes, frogs, turtles, and even insects and monkeys are being captured from the wild by hunters or purchased from local pet markets to be released around the island’s rivers, mountains, forests, lakes, and reservoirs.
This practice of prayer release is so stupid and dangerous that I literally have nothing to say about it.

REF: American Buddhist Confederation 2012 statement on animal release.
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TaiwanJunkie said...

You know what prayer release should really be? You catch a spider in your home, instead of killing it with your slipper, one takes the time to release the spider outdoors where it belongs. Such acts help build compassion within oneself. That is prayer release done right. You don't tell your friends about it, you don't post on Facebook, because it is just a small act of loving kindness that help you mature as a sentient being.

Anything else is just for show, which of course is in direct contradiction to the Buddha's teaching.

Mike Fagan said...

Agreed; it is stupid. Especially the release of monkeys; half of them wind up sitting in the legislature.

TaiwanJunkie said...

Mike, are you talking about that monkey that mistook sunflowers for bananas?

They prayer released him to China dozens of time but somehow he keeps swimming back...

Anonymous said...

Gotta larf! Reminds me of the song - "All of the monkeys ain't in the zoo, There's some a running loose around me and you...". Showing appropriate sympathy and concern for all those foreign domestic and other workers may earn more brownie points to ensure a slot in the next world, instead of damaging the environment in this way which must surely earn the eternal disapproval of the Lord Buddha. London has become overrun by green parakeets; Richmond park is full of them shrieking all day throughout the year. Surely a disaster for local bird life there too.

an angry taiwanese said...


Buddhists love animals.
So they don't do hunting.
But Hunters do.
But Buddhists have money.
But hunters have live animals to deliver.
Buddhists release the animals.
Some die; one or two survive.
End of this year's catching-trading-releasing cycle.
See you next year.

Jeremy O'Donnell said...

...but still needs to be said! Also the practice of burning vast amounts of fake money for offerings needs to be challenged and the vested interests that profit from these practices need to be overcome!

TaiwanJunkie said...

Someone higher up in the Buddhist community needs to step up and put an end to the practice that essentially perpetuate the cycle of suffering.

The feel good self-promotional aspect is anti-Buddhist.
The cause of animal death by releasing into the wrong Eco-system is anti-Buddhist.
The cycle of hunting and purchase and release is anti-Buddhist.

There's honestly nothing Buddhist about these practices. Maybe before he die, that political monk (aka venerable celestial cloud) can earn some positive karma his way by coming out and putting a stop to the practice.

Anonymous said...

Actually they already did, the celeb monks, 聖嚴,證嚴, 星雲 have all spoken against the practice long ago.