April 15, 2008

5th ARRCN meeting in Tam Dao National Park in Vietnam
(the next meeting will be in Mongolia!)

ARRCN, the Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network holds a symposium once every two years. It brings together a multi-faceted group of raptor experts, including field biologists, environmental educators, captivity specialists, researchers, veterinarians, governmental authorities, politicians, students, bird watchers and other people who are interested in Asia and beyond. Therefore, it is an important gathering of people who share common interest in research and conservation of birds of prey in the region.

The symposia provide a unique opportunity for the Asian raptor community and members of ARRCN to share and exchange information, experiences, and results from their activities. Since the first symposium which took place in 1998 in Shiga, Japan, succeeding symposia were held in Bandung, Indonesia in 2000, Kenting, Taiwan in 2003, and Taiping, Malaysia in 2005. Vietnam was the host of 5th symposium which has been held from 3-6 April 2008 in Tam Dao National Park, Vinh Phuc province, Vietnam. Tam Dao NP is located in a beautiful mountainous area located not far from Hanoi and is one of the most important raptor migration sites in Vietnam. The symposium was organized by ARRCN members in Vietnam and hosted jointly by Tam Dao National Park. Congratulations for their hard work that made this symposium a successful one like previous meetings.

In this 5th symposium, over 100 people from 18 countries participated and discussed a total of 45 papers. They were divided into 6 sections including 27 oral presentation and 18 posters. The guest speaker of the symposium was Dr.Keith Bildstein of Sarkis Acopian Director of Conservation Science at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in USA. He masterfully delivered a presentation about geography, ecology, migration paths, and conservation of the world’s migratory raptors. He has studied raptors on a more global scale and authored a worldwide known book on migration of birds prey "Migrating Raptors of the World: Their Ecology and Conservation".

One of the events that painted the symposium was the international bazaar night. That evening, participants were selling or giving away products or items that were used to raise funds for their activities. The products ranged from delicately wrapped chopsticks to a world class book on raptor identification written by Asian raptor experts.

During the symposium Japanese and Taiwanese raptor experts presented second hand digital cameras, binoculars and spotting scopes donated by people of their country to young raptor researchers from Indonesia, Cambodia, and Mongolia. Also, a student from Indonesia was awarded with new Kowa spotting scope for her excellent presentation of her work with raptors.
The last day of the symposium was highlighted by watching migrating raptors and a farewell party that organized in the evening. From 10 am to 14 pm participants of the symposium recorded 16 different raptor species migrating to northern breeding grounds.

Weather during the symposium was overwhelmingly dominated by super mist that covered everything from morning till evening with very few hours of clear sky. So it was at the beginning of the last days’ raptor watch activity. Fortunately, not sooner participants arrived the sky started clearing and provided five hours of pleasant condition to watch migrating hawks.

During the raptor watching event local school children greeted the international participants. Guests from Japan and Taiwan gave short lectures on raptors, its conservation importance, and demonstrated how to use binoculars and spotting scopes to watch raptors.

Mongolia will host the next symposium in 2010

Mongolia was one of the two countries that wished to host the next symposium. The other country was Thailand. On the last day of the symposium, it was officially announced that next symposium will be held in Mongolia in 2010. Although number of members from Mongolia is not high, it is a great opportunity for Mongolia to show its dedication on raptor conservation and research to international raptor community.

Participants at the meeting in Vietnam from Mongolia were Nyambayar Batbayar (in the photo above on the right) and Gankhuyag Purev-Ochir (left) of Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia. WSCC is a NGO with a great dedication on research and conservation of birds of preys, and can be visited at http://www.wscc.org.mn/. They presented their work on Cinereous Vultures and Saker Falcons in Mongolia.

text and photos contributed by Nyambayar Batbayar

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