Across China: Clearing hurdles for migratory birds
NANNING, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Su Yuanjiang, a Chinese bird photographer, enjoys taking pleasant pictures displaying the life of birds. But he takes heartbreaking ones too.
In a photo he shot years ago on Guanling Mountain, administered by Beihai City in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, an osprey flapped its wings furiously in the sky, its feet caught by a mousetrap. "It could only fly, fly, fly, before being exhausted," Su said.
Such scenes have become less common in recent years thanks to efforts of forestry workers, police and volunteers.
The world has billions of migratory birds that travel along eight passages every year, including three passing China. Guangxi is along the passage linking East Asia and Australia. More than 300 species of migratory birds pass Guangxi each year, in which some 150 are attracted to the Beibu Gulf for its beaches, forests and islets. The gulf consists of Beihai, Qinzhou, and Fangchenggang cities.
"April and May is the migratory season. Every night, thousands of birds fly here, heading for their homes in the north. Some of them are rare," said Su, while patrolling Guanling Mountain.
Su is a member of a 400-strong volunteer team set up in 2010 to combat rampant poaching of migratory birds in Beihai, since eating birds used to be a tradition in the gulf area.
When patrolling the mountain at night, Su and other volunteers search for lights. "Where there is light there is probably a trap for birds," Su said.
Poachers bring lights to the mountain and turn them on in misty weather to attract birds, which have lost their sense of direction, into nets, according to Sun Renjie with the mangrove research center in Guangxi.
The volunteers dismantle the nets and give information on armed poachers to the police. The police have also cracked down on sales of birds in food markets.
"Over the past two years, gunshots have been seldom heard on Guanling Mountain. The hunters are usually driven away before taking action," Sun said.
The bird protection and rescue station of Beilunhe nature reserve in Fangchenggang and local forestry authorities have jointly dismantled more than 10,000 meters of bird nets since August. "We have set up cameras to better monitor the poachers," said Tang Shangbo, head of the station.
"Raising awareness is equally important with crackdowns on poaching," said Xu Hai'ou, head of Beihai's volunteer association. The association holds educational events in communities and schools, as well as free bird-watching activities.
An increasing number of birders has brought fortune to villagers.
During the past two to three years, birders from Guangxi's neighboring Sichuan, Yunnan, and Chongqing have flocked to Niulu Village near Shanxinsha Island, which is a stop for more than 30 species of birds, including an endangered type of sandpiper with a global population of 500.
"Tourism not only increased villager incomes, but also changed their attitude towards birds," said Pan Daman, Party chief of the village.
China has stepped up efforts to protect migratory birds and has seen less poaching of them in recent years, according to Yu Fengqin with China Wildlife Conservation Association.
"Today, even pupils know birds are humans' friends," Su Yuanjiang said.