Rare bird sightings show remarkable progress in biodiversity conservation in Dehong, SW China’s Yunnan

(People's Daily Online) 09:40, February 17, 2023

A photographer recently spotted hundreds of blossom-headed parakeets, a national second-class protected animal, in Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China’s Yunnan Province.

The species is known to be distributed in provinces and regions such as Yunnan, Guangdong, and Guangxi, but hadn’t been spotted in these places for nearly 100 years, and was previously thought to no longer exist in China. In April 2015, the species was proven to be still living in the country when a photographer spotted seven blossom-headed parakeets and monitored their breeding activities in the wild in Yingjiang county, Dehong prefecture.

Hundreds of blossom-headed parakeets have recently been spotted in Dehong, southwest China's Yunnan Province, setting a new record for the species' population observed in China. (Photo/People's Daily)

The growing number of the rare bird species in Dehong illustrates the prefecture’s remarkable achievements in biodiversity conservation.

The prefecture is home to 6,053 species of higher plants and 1,000 species of vertebrates, including over 720 bird species, accounting for about 50 percent of China’s total, according to Yang Zhenghua, head of the prefecture’s forestry and grassland bureau.

Dehong prefecture has always attached great importance to wildlife conservation. Yang explained that the prefecture has advanced the monitoring and protection of wildlife by bringing greater scientific research and technological innovation in recent years.

Relevant departments in the prefecture have monitored 79 species of wild animals, including eight national first-class protected animals and 16 national second-class protected animals, through footage captured by infrared cameras. In 2022, a wild Malayan pangolin, which is designated ‘critically endangered’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List, was caught on camera in the prefecture, confirming the distribution of the species in the wild in China.

The prefecture has collected resources of and cultivated rare tree species and endangered plants over the past years, Yang said, adding that it has established a national germplasm bank of high-quality tree species and a national germplasm bank of dendrobium nobile, a member of the orchid family. Over 1 million saplings of rare tree species and more than 30,000 saplings of endangered tree species have been cultivated in the prefecture.

The prefecture has also established seven in-situ conservation areas for plant species with extremely small populations. More than 20,000 plants with extremely small populations and over 200,000 rare plants have been cultivated.

Dehong prefecture has also found a path to prosperity by taking advantage of its improved ecology.

Shiti village in Taiping township, Yingjiang county of Dehong serves as a vivid example.

The village, which is adjacent to a provincial-level nature reserve, boasts a complete rainforest ecosystem and rich wildlife resources. By leveraging its ecological resources, especially birds, the village has vigorously developed bird-watching tourism, bringing wealth to locals. The village is visited by more than 30,000 birdwatchers every year.

“The annual per capita income of villagers has gone up to over 8,000 yuan (about $1,173.5) from less than 2,000 yuan in the past,” said Cai Wu, a local villager. Cai now works as a “bird guide” for birdwatchers, a job that brought him out of poverty.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)


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