URUMQI, March 17 (Xinhua) -- The population of endangered Mengxin beavers has exceeded 500 in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, according to local authorities.
Listed as a first-class state-protected animal in China, Mengxin beavers are the only beaver species living in China and are found only along Xinjiang's Ulungur River. Its population is less than the giant pandas.
The latest statistics showed there are 162 beaver families and 510 beavers in Xinjiang.
A short video recording a beaver family eating food has recently gone viral online.
"We spotted five beavers gathering and eating things on the ice, which was a scene that can rarely be seen, and several mergansers were also found nearby," said Chu Wenwen, a wildlife conservationist in Altay Prefecture, adding that the scenes proved that the local environment was very good.
"Mengxin beaver is a species that can improve the ecological environment. They build dams which will become small habitats and attract more species to form a small ecological cycle. At the same time, the dams can lower the risk of flooding," said Chu, who established a nature conservancy in 2018 and joined hands with local forestry departments to monitor and protect the living environment of beavers.
Altay has seen the natural environment of beavers greatly improved after a series of eco-system protection measures in recent years. The local forestry department said that they would organize beaver protection publicity activities in farming and pastoral areas, and schools to further enhance the public awareness and crackdown on illegal and criminal activities that destroy forests and wildlife.