Scientists in eastern Zhejiang Province are pleased that that the population of rare Chinese crested tern has exceeded 100 for the first time.
"It means that the bird will probably avoid extinction," said Chen Shuihua, deputy head of Zhejiang Museum of Natural History.
The Chinese crested tern, discovered in Indonesia in 1861, is the world's most endangered tern species. The birds migrate to China's east coast in summer and fly to the Southeast Asia for the warmer winter. For a long time, it was believed that its population was less than 50.
In 2013, Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, Oregon State University of the United States and Xiangshan county ocean and fisheries administration started an experiment in Jiushan island natural reserve, attracting crested terns with fake birds and by playing recorded birdsong.
The experiment successfully attracted 19 Chinese crested terns in 2013, and 43 in 2014. The terns gave birth to 13 baby birds in 2014.
In 2018, 77 Chinese crested terns arrived at Zhejiang, and they gave birth to 25 babies. Another 14 Chinese crested terns were discovered in other parts of the world.
Chen said that female Chinese crested terns would only deliver one egg at a time, which were prone to attacks from snakes and mice, as well as typhoons and human activity.
The bird is still an extremely endangered species. To better protect the species, experts have also been conducting conservation genetic and reproductive ecology studies, Chen said.