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Authorities to boost wild bird protection

(China Daily)

08:54, January 15, 2013

A distressed swan is taken from Dongting Lake, Hunan province, on Sunday after 15 swans and 31 wild ducks were found dead. Police believe the birds were poisoned and five suspects have been arrested. (China Daily/Li Feng )

Five arrested for poisoning swans, ducks in Dongting Lake Wetland

To prevent the habitat of wintering birds from turning into a hunting ground, local officials in Dongting Lake Wetland of Central China's Hunan province have pledged stricter law enforcement.

By Monday, a patrol led by the local forestry administration found that 15 swans and 31 wild ducks wintering in the East Dongting Lake had been poisoned to death. Two swans almost died but were saved after being sent to a nearby clinic.

Forestry police arrested five suspects at the scene, but the cause of the deaths is still under investigation, police said.

According to Liu Jianhua, an officer in charge of criminal investigations at the provincial forestry police bureau, police are analyzing the poisons.

"Once the cause is confirmed, the police will immediately prosecute the offenders," police said.

Dongting Lake Wetland is an important habitat and wintering area for East Asian migratory birds. According to the local forestry administrative bureau, a closed-off management system has been implemented in the key areas of the lake, including the big and small lakes, ditches and T-shape embankments.

Infrared video monitors have been installed in the core area.

"No one is allowed to enter the closed-off management zone without permission," said an official named Zhang. "But this time, the dead swans were found in the open area."

According Zhang, the local team will continue to patrol around the lake, especially in the open areas.

"We will mete out stricter punishment to prevent the tragedies from happening again," said Zhang.

Xu Yaping, an animal protection activist who took part in the patrol, said that swans are usually poisoned to be sold to restaurants.

"These swans were probably killed for the same reason," said Xu.

A swan could cost several hundred yuan in restaurants.

"This was not the first case found here," said Xu. "But this time was definitely the most serious one."

Xu said that in addition to government efforts, the public should participate in the campaign to protect these birds.

"These species are crucial in stabilizing the ecosystem in the biological chain. Protecting them means a lot to the future of human beings," he said.

Similar tragedies happened in the Beidagang Natural Reserve of Tianjin two months ago, where at least 20 Oriental white storks were found dead and 13 more poisoned in wetland tainted by highly toxic pesticide.

Two suspects were detained on Nov 30.

Hua Ning, a project manager at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said that the public still lacks awareness of protecting wildlife, especially when they are driven by economic interests.

"What the government should do is reduce the conflict between people and nature," Hua said.

According to Hua, there are inevitable conflicts between animals and human beings. It has been previously reported that migratory birds have eaten up crops near Dongting Lake.

The government should take the responsibility to reconcile the conflict and subsidize the farmers, said Hua.

"By taking responsibility, the government would better guide the public in animal protection," Hua added.

Related Reading:

15 swans poisoned to death in central China

CHANGSHA, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Fifteen swans have died after being poisoned in central China's Hunan Province, officials said on Monday.[Read More]

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