WWF’s “Discovering Biodiversity in Hong Kong Wetlands” project raises the number of species in Mai Po to 2,050+ Project delivers a holistic update on Hong Kong’s wetland species for habitat management work and future conservation planning | WWF Hong Kong

WWF’s “Discovering Biodiversity in Hong Kong Wetlands” project raises the number of species in Mai Po to 2,050+ Project delivers a holistic update on Hong Kong’s wetland species for habitat management work and future conservation planning

Posted 13 February 2017
In May 2015, WWF-Hong Kong launched a historic project called “Discovering Biodiversity in Hong Kong Wetlands”, made possible through the generous support of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC). The findings of this two-year project provide up-to-date baseline ecological information on the Mai Po and Inner Deep Bay area, fresh knowledge about the current ecological situation of these wetlands, and a biodiversity inventory which will be used for long-term ecological monitoring and to inform habitat management decisions.
Engaging some of Hong Kong’s top wildlife experts and species specialists and guided by the concept of “citizen science”, the Discovering Biodiversity project team conducted a wide array of in-depth biological surveys throughout the Mai Po and Inner Deep Bay Ramsar site. With the help of numerous experts and over 450 citizen scientists who volunteered a total of 6,600 service hours, these surveys raised the number of wildlife species recorded in this area to over 2,050, with the number of spider species on record increasing remarkably – from 10 to over 100#. The project also helped deliver solid proof of the usage of Deep Bay by rarely-seen species like the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), Four-spot Midget (Mortonagrion hirosei), and Mai Po Bent-winged firefly  (Pteroptyx maipo).
Today, WWF began a two-day Symposium on Deep Bay Wetland Conservation to mark the completion of the Discovering Biodiversity in Hong Kong Wetlands project. Running from 11-12 February, the Symposium will also provide the public with an opportunity to learn more about freshwater conservation and will allow wetland managers and researchers to share their experiences and the findings they obtained while working in the Deep Bay area.
Mr Peter Cornthwaite, Chief Executive Office of WWF-Hong Kong was joined at the opening ceremony by officiating guests  Mr Simon Chan, Assistant Director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department; Ms Malini Thadani, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited’s Head of Corporate Sustainability in Asia Pacific;   Dr Yan Bao Hua, Deputy Secretary-General of the Shenzhen Mangrove Wetlands Conservation Foundation; and Dr Lew Young, the Ramsar Convention Secretariat’s Senior Regional Advisor for Asia-Oceania.
Mr Peter Cornthwaite explained the importance of the project to both Hong Kong and WWF, saying, “WWF has managed Mai Po Nature Reserve, a designated Ramsar site, since 1983. Mai Po is one of the most important biological hotspots in Hong Kong and it plays a hugely important role in the community. The Reserve is a cornerstone of Hong Kong’s nature conservation sector and is vital to WWF’s education programmes. Over 30,000 visitors come to Mai Po every year, and over 200 local and regional wetland managers are trained here annually. However, the last similar inventory research project in Mai Po was conducted 30 years ago. Thanks to HSBC’s support, this project has been a success – the results will be crucial to our future management work in Mai Po. HSBC’s continuing support has also helped us make Mai Po more accessible to people with special needs.”
Ms Malini Thadani, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited’s Head of Corporate Sustainability in Asia Pacific, said “HSBC believes that economic development should be underpinned by the health of the world’s ecosystem and resources. We are proud of our long term global partnership with WWF, which has resulted in the development of a wide range of flagship environmental programmes around the world. In Hong Kong, HSBC has been supporting WWF’s wetland conservation work in Mai Po since 1999.”
Survey data for the project was collected between May 2015 and December 2016 from a range of sites across the Mai Po and Inner Deep Bay Ramsar site. The taxa surveyed included birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects (butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies, beetles, ants, bees and wasps, and moths), spiders, aquatic species (fish, crabs and shrimp) and plants. The number of species found in Mai Po is now over 2,050 – including over 100 spider species, 416 bird species, 155 bee and wasp species, 323 plant species and 33 mammal species#. In September 2016, a new peak count of 900+ Mai Po Bent-winged firefly – a species which is endemic to Deep Bay and was only named in 2011 – was recorded at Mai Po Nature Reserve during the survey. Additionally, the mammal survey found stable populations of species including the Leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) and Small Indian civet (Viverricula indica).

Mr Alex Wong of WWF-Hong Kong, the project’s manager, expressed his gratitude to the 450 citizen scientists who collectively contributed 6,600 volunteer hours to the surveys, saying “The project could not have been completed without the dedication of our citizen scientists who came from various backgrounds. This is the largest-ever WWF-Hong Kong project to be guided by the concept of citizen science. The surveys provided a chance for students and the public to gain first-hand experience of Hong Kong’s biodiversity and participate in professional scientific research as citizen scientists.”
WWF will perform further analyses on the project data to determine trends and other factors that may affect the wildlife in Deep Bay. These analyses will inform the habitat management decisions made at Mai Po and other conservation measures adopted for various organisms and habitats. A complete species list is now available on WWF-Hong Kong’s website:
#Ecological Survey Results
Mammal 33 species   Fish 54 species
Bird 416 species   Shrimp 11 species
Butterfly 105 species   Crab 40 species
Dragonfly and Damselfly 51 species   Amphibian 8 species
Moth 316 species   Reptile 22 species
Ant 15+ species   Spider 100+ species
Bee and Wasp 155 species   Plant 323 species
Coleoptera (Beetle and weevil) 400+ species