Traditional Chinese Medicine Driving Small Bird To Extinction

In the in Guangdong province of China, demand for the the valuable yellow-breasted bunting has driven the bird to the brink of extinction -- it was officially categorized as endangered on Monday by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Now, anyone caught with one of the birds can be fined 100,000 yuan (USD $16413.40), according to the South China Morning Post.

Despite the threat of penalties, the market for yellow-breasted bunting, a migratory bird that flies from Europe to China for the winter, thrives on the mainland. Conservationists say poaching to supply the demand is a leading cause of the sharp decline in the protected species' numbers over the past decade.

The bird is a very popular delicacy in the region, where many people believe its meat can detoxify their bodies and improve their sexual vitality.

"The very rapid recent population decline in the yellow-breasted bunting is believed to be primarily driven by trapping at migration and, in particular, wintering sites in southern China and Southeast Asia," Andy Symes, global species officer with BirdLife, told SCMP.