Huge numbers captured
A sparrow sized song bird with yellow belly known the yellow-breasted bunting is facing extinction. Its addition to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species a year and half ago does not help. It is considered as a delicacy in China and so hunted in large number as evidenced by November 2011 case of Chinese police confiscating a total of two million birds in a single raid in the southwest China and 20,000 were the buntings.
Within 33 years (1980 and 2013) its population has reduced by 90%. The decline, statistically arrived at started at 2% in 1980 with an increase of .2 % annually resulting in decimation of 8.6 million birds in 2013 with assumed population of birds at 100 million. It has disappeared totally from the skies of European part of Russia.
Though hunting is prohibited since 1997, the spree to net the bird continues unchecked. It is captured and sold stealthily to rich customers in black market. Because of its tiny size (weighs about 16 to 18 grams) more birds are required to whet the appetite and so more birds are slaughtered.
The route it takes annually is also another reason for its decimation. It was seen in large numbers until 1980s in the skies over northern Europe and Asia. During summer it went to Finland, Northern Russia, China and Japan. It flew south and spent its winter in India and southern China. Unfortunately when the birds caught the fancy of Chinese in 1990s, the story of its declining population started.
Not only the yellow breasted bunting (Emberiza aureola), but also the rustic bunting and the rosefinch face the same fate.
Chinese authorities have banned hunting and selling the bird. Social media creates awareness to safeguard the little feathered songster.