HA NOI, April 25 - Environmentalists have called on residents and authorities in the northern province of Lai Chau to stop the killing of migrating storks, which are protected under international law.
The appeal was made by scientists from the Viet Nam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment after dozens of Openbill storks were hunted down by residents of Muong Te District, near the Lai Chau Hydro Power Plant.
The white Openbill storks (Anastomus oscitans), weighing 1.2-2.2kg, had been caught and butchered in the past few days because residents said, "they destroyed rice fields."
The storks were new to the northern area. The local people called them "strange birds" because they hadn't seen them before.
The association condemned the killings, which violated the international convention on migrating birds, signed by the Vietnamese Government.
The storks inhabit South and Southeast Asian countries including India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Viet Nam.
In Viet Nam, the storks are known under the name co nhan (swallow) or co oc (snail storks) since they mainly eat snails. They also eat frogs, crabs, large insects and other small living things. They are mostly seen in the country's south-western region.
The association said the number of storks had decreased sharply over the past few years, putting them on the verge of extinction. They are listed as rare in the Viet Nam Red Book.
The heavy, gentle storks were an easy target as they fed in the fields, the association said. (PNA/VNS)