Endangered species come back near the Han River

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Endangered species come back near the Han River

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The Mongolian racerunner, left, and nerippe fritillary butterfly, right, are among endangered species found near the Han River. Provided by Seoul City Government


About a dozen endangered species, such as the nerippe fritillary butterfly, that had not been previously observed in the area were found for the first time around the Han River, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said yesterday.

The city government said it has conducted a study of the area around the Han River including Jungnang Stream in northern Seoul and other bioregions such as Seoul Forest, eastern Seoul, from April last year to September of this year to see changes to the ecosystem.

The city’s Han River environment improvement projects are designed to not only make the area around the river more accessible to pedestrians, but also to improve the quality of the ecosystem around the waterways.

The city government has designated several streams, including Cheonggye, Jungnang and Anyang, as bird sanctuaries and also created ecological parks like Gangseo Park in western Seoul and Amsa Ecological Park in eastern Seoul as part of the project.

Under the city government, the ecosystem around these areas has received more attention and the plant life and wildlife has started to recover after the effects of population development.

It said that the species in these regions have increased by 355 over 10 years, 1,480 in 2002 to 1,835 this year.

A dozen endangered species, including: Mongolian racerunners, white-tailed sea eagles, sparrowhawks, bluet flowers, cotoneaster plants and bladderworts were found for the first time since the city government started studying the area in 1987. This is Seoul’s seventh study.

The city government also found yellow-bellied and pond slider turtles, species known as ecosystem disturbers, for the first time in the area.

But endangered species that were observed in six previous studies, including the Seoul frog, Chinese egret and luehdorfia puziloi butterfly weren’t observed at this time.

Bullfrogs, another notorious ecosystem disturber, weren’t observed in the region twice consecutively.

Gangseo Ecological Park in Gaehwa-dong was considered the best natural habitat for birds in the study.

About 18,000 birds of 44 different species are living in the area.

“About 65 percent of species in Seoul are living in the vicinity of the Han River and its nearby streams,” Choi Gwang-min, a spokesman of the Seoul Metropolitan Government said.

“We are trying to protect endangered species and also try to reduce the number of species that could disturb the ecosystem in the area. Our efforts are coming to fruition.”

By Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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