Guardians of wildlife on the Loess Plateau

(Xinhua) 19:34, November 16, 2023

LANZHOU, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Every morning at sunrise, police officer Ma Ming and his well-equipped colleagues step out from their police station nestled within the picturesque Guanshan Mountains, embarking on their patrols in these relatively rare verdant landscapes of the Loess Plateau in the northwestern Gansu Province.

The police station, headed by Ma, is responsible for safeguarding this critical ecological shelter for the Loess Plateau, a vast forest area covering 350,000 mu (about 23,333 hectares). Within this domain, forest patrol constitutes an integral component of the daily tasks of Ma and his team.

"I have deep appreciation for nature and its wildlife. Over the past few years, as the ecological environment has improved, and the scourge of illegal poaching has waned, it has become common for us to come across wild animals during our routine forest patrols," said the police officer.

Guanshan Mountains, straddling the provinces of Gansu and Shaanxi, used to be a hotspot for illegal hunting. The mountains' intricate terrain and significant traffic made it a prime target for poachers.

It's home to nearly 60 different species of wild animals, including red deer, leopard, forest musk deer and red-bellied chicken. A decade ago, poachers frequently exploited the porous provincial borders, sneaking into the deep forests armed with guns and snares.

To combat this menace and create a safe shelter for the local wildlife, Ma and his team initiated various measures. They began by visiting local villages to educate villagers about the laws and regulations governing forest protection, illustrating their points with real-life examples. Simultaneously, their patrols were intensified.

The long trek through the dense forest is fraught with danger. It normally takes them at least three hours to finish a tour of inspection. Inevitably, they are scratched by thick tree branches in the process of conducting their patrols.

In August 2021, Ma and his colleagues received a tip-off about a criminal gang engaged in hunting wild animals in the vicinity of Guanshan Mountains. These lawbreakers even posted videos of their hunting exploits online to garner attention.

After tracking a dozen criminals fleeing on motorbikes through the forest while transporting their prey, Ma and his colleague discreetly tailed the gang day and night. Their persistence paid off when they successfully arrested the poachers.

"It was worth all the hard work and effort," said Ma, when reflecting on the successful arrests.

Over the past decade, Ma has taken the lead in managing more than 300 criminal and administrative cases. Thanks to the relentless efforts of Ma and his colleagues, local wildlife and natural resources have been effectively safeguarded.

In the eyes of his 6-year-old son, Ma is not just a protector of wildlife but also his hero. He often daydreams about his dad appearing in his favorite animated series, "Boonie Bears," which depicts the clever and humorous adventures of personified wildlife.

"If dad were there, he could protect the bears and their home," the young wildlife lover said proudly. ■

(Web editor: Zhao Tong, Xian Jiangnan)


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