Korea belongs to China 1

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Guest contribution by Dr. Bernhard Seliger, representative of the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Korea, which, among other things, carries out species protection projects in the inner-Korean border area and in North Korea.

March 3rd is UN World Wildlife Day. It goes back to March 3, 1973, when the Washington Convention on Endangered Species was signed to protect wild animals and plants, especially those threatened by (illegal) trade. Korea has a special biodiversity, as this country, which is mostly in the temperate zone, also has subtropical regions (in the south of the peninsula and on the island of Jeju) to alpine zones (for example on the Hallasan in Jeju or in the Seoraksan Mountains in the Gangwon- Province) and in North Korea even subarctic zones (on Baekdusan, the highest mountain in Korea on the border with China).

The fauna of Korea also belongs to the temperate zone, with many animal species (such as roe deer, pheasants, woodpeckers) that are also found in Germany. However, 90 percent of Korea's birds are migratory, and the Asia-Pacific flight route passes through the Yellow Sea, where millions of birds use Korea every year as wintering areas, roosts on migration, and breeding grounds in summer.

Unfortunately, many of the species occurring in Korea are threatened by various developments: In the country, it is the population pressure (South Korea is twice as densely populated as Germany), the incessant infrastructure development and the downsizing of habitats through agro-industrial development in rural areas. Hunting and poisoning, on the other hand, often occur in the breeding areas of birds that winter in Korea, e.g. in Russia and Mongolia, and in the wintering areas of breeding birds that breed here in Korea, especially in Southeast Asia.

Biodiversity cannot be taken for granted, and climate change is also leading to a sometimes dramatic decline in habitats. Together with South Korea, Germany is interested in the protection of species, e.g. as part of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity. This year, the protection of the forests and the biodiversity in forests is in the foreground of the World Wildlife Day. In the Bonn Challenge in 2011, many countries, including Germany and South Korea, agreed to reforest 350 million hectares of land globally by 2030.

These animals are found in Korea and are particularly endangered:

Image 1: Red-crowned crane (Grus Japonensis) One of the symbolic birds on the Korean peninsula that is particularly protected. Fewer than 2000 wild birds winter on the Korean peninsula and breed in northern China, Mongolia and Russia. A small non-migrant population lives in Japan.

Image 2: Amur falcon (Falco amurensis) The Amur falcon has a wide distribution area from India to the Amur. In some areas it is massively hunted or threatened by poisoning (e.g. poison for rodents). In South Korea it can be seen as a migratory bird in spring and autumn.

Image 3: The black vulture (Aegypius monachus) feeds exclusively on carrion. It is represented in the entire temperate zone, from the southern edge of the Alps to Korea. Black vultures overwinter in Korea and migrate to the breeding areas in Mongolia in spring. One tenth of the approximately 5000 vultures living in the wild worldwide overwinter in Korea. They are particularly at risk from poisoned bait, for example for predators or rodents.

Image 4: The black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor) occurs only in East Asia, especially on the Korean peninsula and China. After years of endangered by the disappearance of habitats and the disturbance of breeding colonies on rocks by egg collectors, its population is now increasing again across the entire range thanks to better protection. Like the red-crowned crane, it is also a symbol of the unity of the Korean peninsula due to its concentration in the inner-Korean border area.