China’s Yalu Jiang nature reserve, which is near the border with North Korea, extends across 50 kilometres of estuarine mudflats.
This is where, every year, 250,000 birds including godwits, oystercatchers and the endangered great knot arrive to consume clams. They then continue on journeys as long as tens of thousands of kilometres. For example, the godwit travels from New Zealand to breeding grounds in Alaska.
Unfortunately, the clam population has suffered badly from pollution and environmental degradation causing a fall in numbers to about 5 per cent of the original population.
The solution has been to supply farmed shellfish from China, conservationists estimating that 500 tonnes of shellfish would be required. An international appeal for $365,000 for the food was successful just in time for the arrival of 75,000 hungry great knots.