The Asian Bird Fair is an annual meeting where Bird- and Nature conservation organisations, as well as organisers of ecotours, meet. Starting in 2010, it is held in a different place each year. The event has steadily gained in interest and now hosts representatives of 29 counties and 40 organisations. European organisations, and actually also Europeans are a small minority.
For the Asian Bird Fair 2016, which was held in China, Nature in colour was specially invited. I am so honoured that I could be there! It was a once-in-a-lifetime happening which I will never forget! Thank you so much for being the driving force behind this event, Victor, Mike and Andrew! Cindy, thanks so much for managing to get my luggage back, in between all the organising work which was way more important than my stuff. Reese: you were the best, thanks for translating and looking after our Nature in colour stand. Sky, I want to be on your tour bus again! Dany, you taught me that in spite of being a world apart, similarities between people are still much bigger than our differences. Everyone at ABF, thanks so much, thanks to all of you, I went home with a different view of the world! I am looking forward to seeing many of you again in Chiayi!
The Bird Fair in Jingshan consisted of neat blue stands, conveniently placed in the city’s park. It was held over the weekend and attracted a staggering twenty-thousand visitors from wide and far. Over 300 people representing 47 organisations and companies showcased their work in bird- and nature conservation; promoted ecotourism and sold bird-related souvenirs. There was a highly professional photo exhibition, bonsai-trees of a quality like I have never seen before, exquisite wood carvings as well as delicious food (I really liked the sugared tomatoes 🙂 ). As a white guy, I got some extra attention: especially children delighted to be photographed with me. This is nice in the beginning, but after two days it does tend to become a bit tiresome …
There were side-events as well. Chinese-style, they were organised to be big and impressive, and at the same time with a great eye for detail. And, I was surely very impressed, I still remember them like yesterday. The opening ceremony was great, with a parade that made us feel like we were playing in the Olympics (quite humbling, actually) followed by speeches and then splendid performances by the local schoolchildren. I can’t imagine how long they must have practised for this event, which was only held once.
The other great event was a sold-out theatre show, which was likewise only held once. In many acts, dancers and singers presented the cultural heritage of the local people, which is intricately linked with wetlands and, of course, nature conservation. This opened my eyes and ears to Chinese art, and I still daily listen to Chinese bamboo flute (dizi) music as a result.
After the fair, we visited two impressive areas and even saw Mandarin ducks in the wild, a species which I know well from captivity. With their intricate beauty, they seem to have flown right out of a Chinese painting and it is no wonder that the Chinese conservationists hold them in high esteem. We then visited a school where birdwatching is part of the classes taught to each of the children. This, in the end, is what gives me hope for the future of our world. I saw a great many things. This part of China is developing in all directions at once, the industry is booming and some pollution is certainly alarming. But, if these children are all learning about the importance of nature, there is hope.
You can find more information on the website of the Asian Bird Fair
Written by Paul Veenvliet, 16.10.2018