Forest police station in SW China ensures safety of migratory birds

(Xinhua) 16:08, April 18, 2024

KUNMING, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Li Sizhong retired in February, having just finished a six-month patrol of a well-known stopover site for migratory birds in southwest China, bidding farewell to the birds he had safeguarded for four decades.

Li, 60, worked at the Hongtupo forest police station, which is affiliated with the public security bureau of Nanhua County in Yunnan Province. Over the years, he and his fellow police officers worked hard to guarantee the safe migration of birds.

"Braving wind and rain and sleeping in tents in the forest, we guarded the birds' nests in mountainous areas spanning thousands of mu (one mu equals about 667 square meters)," Li said.

The Dazhong Mountain section, located in the hinterland of Ailao Mountain in Yunnan, is one of the world's important bird migration routes.

Over a period of 40 years, Li and the other officers at the station have entered the forest in the Nanhua area of the Ailao Mountain national nature reserve each September and remained there until the following February. During their patrols, they ensure a safe environment for the birds, protect forests and prevent wildlife-related crimes such as poaching.

As their schedules are dictated by bird migration habits, Hongtupo is affectionately known as the "migratory bird police station" among locals.

However, in the 1980s, the poaching of migratory birds was rampant in the area.

Local villager Tao Faqing said that at that time, some people hunted migratory birds when they flew across the area and, gradually, the sounds of the birds became almost inaudible.

To address the issue, the police station established its first migratory bird guard point in 1984. The station had gotten off to a rough start, lacking running water and phone service, and it faced significant challenges receiving supplies. Initially, the officers had no choice but to live in tents, and it was not until 2010 that a residence was built for them.

To avoid spooking poachers, the officers move as silently as possible and do not use flashlights during their patrols.

When police officer Yang Zhengqiang saw a fire that had been lit by poachers during a nighttime patrol, he chased after them and fell down a steep slope, he said. He did not call out for help, waiting until dawn before he was rescued by his colleagues.

"It was only after dawn that I realized there was a cliff a little farther from where I was stuck," Yang said.

To date, the forest police station has developed five patrol routes to protect the birds, covering 157 mountain ridges and 474 mountain passes.

Arduous as the journey has been, these protection efforts have paid off. No poaching cases have been reported in the Nanhua area in the last five years, and the forest areas have seen growing numbers of birds.

As of the end of February this year, the forest police station has ensured the safe migration of more than 5 million birds during the just-finished patrol.

Following Li's retirement, others have taken up the baton and marched ahead.

"Protecting migratory birds is a heavy responsibility, and we must pass on this tradition," said Zhang Yueping, director of the police station.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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