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 . 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 : 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.This practice of prayer release is so stupid and dangerous that I literally have nothing to say about it.
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.
REF: American Buddhist Confederation 2012 statement on animal release.
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