Discover China: Endangered birds regain wonderland in east China

Source: Xinhua| 2020-05-16 08:52:22|Editor: huaxia

FUZHOU, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Since April last year, Wang Naizhu, a bird watcher, has made 38 trips to a wetland in eastern China's Fujian Province to observe a type of critically endangered tern.

The Chinese crested terns he has been obsessed with were first discovered in China in 1861 and were once thought to be extinct.

However, the rare terns with black beaks and white feathers appeared in a wetland along the estuary of the Minjiang River in 2004. They have been found on a sandbank there since then every year from April to September.

The wetland, a major passage and habitat for migratory birds traveling between East Asia and Australia, is home to 1,089 types of animals and plants, and more than 50,000 water birds make stop-overs there during their migration.

Wang said fewer than 100 such terns exist in the world, but "locals once observed 16 of them in the wetland."

Actually, the wetland was severely polluted at the beginning of the new century. Local residents reclaimed dozens of new fish ponds, occupying an area of up to several hundred mu in the buffer zone, and raised razor clam and ducks in the core area, resulting in the degradation of wetland.

The fragile ecological environment in the wetland attracted the attention of governments at all levels in Fujian Province. A series of rules and regulations on wetland protection and restoration were rolled out.

Meanwhile, local governments started building the wetland reserve in 2003, which was approved as a provincial-level nature reserve in 2007 and the first national wetland park in Fujian in 2010. In June 2013, it was upgraded to a national nature reserve by the State Council.

Since 2018, the governments have invested a total of 128 million yuan (about 18 million U.S. dollars) in wetland protection and restoration projects.

Thanks to the efforts, the protected area of the wetland has increased to 2,381 hectares, and it has become a paradise for endangered birds again.

As the water birds were hunting food and playing in the core area of the wetland, Chen Shenzhen who raised ducks there for decades would always observe the birds on the wetland embankment.

"On the one hand, I'm looking to see if there are any people entering the core area to catch birds with nets; on the other hand, I'm checking to see if there's anything unusual in these birds," he said.

Last year, the 63-year-old man was appointed a full-time patroller of the wetland. He earned only around 3,000 yuan a month, much less than the income from selling ducks and their eggs.

"After all, this (protecting the wetland) is what we should do," he said.

Now, another five farmers have transformed into patrollers and protectors of the wetland reserve, and 40 local residents also participate in the public security patrol, sanitation and public green maintenance there to guard the home of the endangered birds.

However, Chen had little work to do this spring. He said this made him feel relieved.

"It reflects people have enhanced awareness of protecting the wetland and the birds." Enditem