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Cries of mother earth

(China Daily)

08:30, November 01, 2012

A sophomore conducted an ecological expedition in Hunan province during summer and is ashamed to discover that man is the main killer of nature. Pu Zhendong reports.

Although it's been two months, Gao Liang still has nightmares about the fury on the night of Aug 15 — the sound of gunshots, bird squealing, followed by people bustling in ecstasy.

It was the hunting season for residents from Jinlan Village, Guidong county of Chenzhou, in Hunan province.

"The villagers are not only catching the birds for money, they do it for fun," Gao says. "During the migration season, men and women, young and old, head out to the mountains to hunt. The whole scene is like a carnival."

Twenty-year-old Gao, a sophomore at Changsha Environmental Protection College in Hunan province, went to the village as part of his field study to investigate the status of environment protection in the province.

He started his expedition on July 16 and covered more than 1,000 kilometers in 35 days.

From his research, he discovered that Jinlan Village — located in the line of migratory birds — has observed the tradition of fowling for hundreds of years. Hunting season starts in late April when millions of migratory birds flock to the village, which lies south of the Luoxiao Mountains. By late September, the birds will leave the mountains and head south.

At 7:00 pm on Aug 15, Gao set up his tent about 1 km from the spot where about 30 excited hunters ambushed. A villager revealed the killing ground to him.

It was a starry night, Gao recalls, and the village was silhouetted in peace. Yet what was to come was dreadful.

"The villagers used flashlights to draw the birds' attention," Gao says.

At about 7:40 pm, a blast of shooting broke the tranquility. What followed was a mix of sounds: birds shrieking and hunters wielding weapons of bamboo poles, guns and nets. In the darkness, Gao could only hear birds falling one after another, shrilling in agony. The shooting did not stop until dawn broke.

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