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 Words in the News
  Six pairs of Chinese crested terns have been seen rearing chicks on a tiny islet which is visited by fisherman hunting for eggs. It had been thought that this bird was extinct. BBC Science reporter Toby Murcott reported.
  AudioListen to the report in full
Artists impression of Chinese crested tern

27th July 2000

Seabirds: back from the edge of extinction

 AudioListen to the first part of the report
  The last confirmed sighting of the Chinese crested tern was in 1937 - but after more than sixty years classified as extinct the species has returned from the dead. The birds were spotted by a tourist, who sent photographs to the Wild Bird Federation, Taiwan, part of the global Birdlife International. The excited ornithologists carefully examined the photos and confirmed that the tern is alive and well. The exact location of the islet where the birds have been found nesting is being kept a closely guarded secret to prevent them being disturbed. Egg poaching probably contributed to their decline in the first place.

classified: if things are classified they are divided into groups so that those with similar characteristics are in the same group

species: a class of animals or plants whose members have their main characteristics in common

spotted: if you spot something you notice it even though it may not be obvious

ornithologists: bird expert

islet: a small island

poaching: hunting, trapping or catching animals or eggs illegally, without permission on someone else's land

NEWS 2  AudioListen to the second part of the report
  But it will be a challenge to protect the few remaining birds, as so little is known about these elusive creatures. One idea that’s worked in other areas of conservation is to encourage people living nearby to benefit from protecting the species; fishermen could take birdwatchers to see these rare seabirds rather than collecting their eggs. With the rate of extinction estimated at around one hundred species per day, conservationists are taking at least a glimmer of hope from this one species still hanging on to life - just.

elusive creatures: a creature that is hard to find

conservation: the preservation and protection of the environment

estimated: if you estimate an amount or a quantity, you calculate it approximately or say what it is likely to be

glimmer: a glimmer of something is a faint sign of it


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