Korea’s demilitarization zone (DMZ) – a war remnant still separating the North and South of the country – now provides life to endangered species. The DMZ is landmined and therefore a tract of land where people literally feared to tread. As a consequence, it is now flourishing with flora and fauna that would have had difficulty surviving in competition with humans. It’s recently been revealed as one of only two breeding grounds for the critically endangered black-faced spoonbill: a species that teetered on the brink of extinction in the early 1990s when its known world population stood at a mere 294. Now with a healthier population level of over 800, the bird is still endangered by poaching (for food and sale to zoos) and because of agricultural pesticides that are getting into the birds’ food chain in China with fatal results. The zone is also home to the endangered red-crowned crane – a symbol of long life in China and Japan.
ACTION: The China office of environmental group, Pacific Environment, urges Chinese readers to take the story of the black-faced spoonbill into schools to educate others about how poaching and pesticides can imperil species.Chris Richards