Poyang Lake in east China’s Jiangxi province, a major winter destination for birds from Siberia has shrunk to less than 200 square km, or 5 percent of its full size due to severe drought this year. According to Officials, The lake had more than 500,000 birds of 52 categories, including endangered species such as hooded cranes and white-naped cranes, as of December, 2011. The drought has considerably reduced the feed on plankton, fish and waterweed in the lake and its nearby wetlands.
The first helicopter drop will start before the Chinese Spring Festival, that falls on Jan. 23, to ensure that birds will not starve for the rest of the winter, says
Wu Heping, a senior official at the Poyang Natural Reserve.
About 200,000 birds, or half of the flock, have flown to the nine satellite lakes of Poyang, and their expanded habitat is the main reason we used air distribution this year. About 60 percent of swan geese and 98 percent of white cranes in the world fly to Poyang for the winter, but they are now threatened by shrinking food supply and habitat. Traditionally, feed was distributed by reserve staff members in times of disastrous snowstorms. But manual distribution has been difficult this year, as the massive shrinkage of Poyang has forced the exodus of birds into nearby smaller lakes and even farmlands.
Feed to be helicopter dropped include tonnes of rice, maize, fish and shrimps, which cater to both herbivorous and carnivorous birds.
Eastern China's rainfall in 2011 was 20 percent less than the amount that fell on average annually. The shrinking of Lake Poyang has threatened water supplies to more than one million people residing near the lake and rivers in Jiangxi Province.