BirdLife International is pushing an action plan to save the Endangered Yellow-breasted Bunting, after unchecked hunting has pushed it to the verge of extinction in the space of just three decades.
In the mid-1990s, the observed decline of Yellow-breasted Bunting in Hokkaido, Japan, alerted conservationists that this superabundant species might be in trouble. It has suffered a huge decline, possibly as much as 95 per cent of its population, in the span of just two to three decades. Prior to 2004, this attractive seed-eater was not regarded as of conservation concern, but since 2013 it has been listed as Endangered and this year the discussion on BirdLife’s Globally Threatened Birds Forum concerned a potential further uplisting to Critically Endangered.
The species migrates in huge flocks which are hunted in massive numbers, and its plight has been worsened by improvements in communication and transportation. The species gathers in large numbers at night to roost, making the birds easy to trap in high numbers. It is known as ‘Rice Bird’ in China, where it is hunted for food; this practice has been illegal since 1997 but continues on the black market to this day.