China’s Dabieshan Mountain becomes bird paradise thanks to efforts of ecological protection

An egret flies in Nanchuan district, southwest China’s Chongqing municipality, April 3, 2020. Photo by Qu Mingin/ People’s Daily Online

By Wang Huo, Tang Ling, Huang Jin

Dabieshan Mountain, a huge mountain range located where the borders of the three Chinese provinces of Anhui, Henan, and Hubei meet, is a “gene bank” of bird species taken by many endangered rare birds as a shelter.

On the north side of the mountain, crested ibises skim over the water and then land elegantly on the trees after gracefully crossing rice fields, and Reeves’s pheasants are foraging on the rocks while making beautiful chirps. Numerous rare bird species are living happily in the deep mountain.

The bird paradise is not only a generous bestowal from the mother nature, but also a result of meticulous conservation efforts made by generations.

Luo Qingsong is a guardian of the birds who has devoted himself to bird protection for over a dozen years. In 2004, he started teaching at a high school in Luoshan county, Xinyang of Henan province where a lush metasequoia forest sits across a river. Every March he would go and observe egrets in local wetlands. However, urban expansion and environmental pollution that go with economic development encroached the habitats of the bird species.

Therefore, he called on people to enhance protection of the wetlands and egrets on the internet, and established a volunteer group guarding the egrets. Under the efforts of Luo and his peers, dozens of valuable metasequoias avoided the fate of being cut down. Luo, leading his volunteer group, has also applied for a protected area of egrets to China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Developement Foundation three years ago.

During a field investigation of egret habitats, a local villager sent Luo a 1-meter feather of a male Reeves’s pheasant. It was the first time for him to see such a beautiful feather, which astonished him very much. He learnt from the villager that there were only less than 1,000 Reeves’s pheasants in Dongzhai, where the villager lives, due to poaching and damages to the birds’ habitat. It made him realize that apart from egrets, there are still many other bird species that need to be protected.

Therefore, he is now organizing multiple field surveys every year together with other volunteers to learn the distribution of rare species in the Dabieshan Mountain. He wrote a large number of reports and published a survey on the egret distribution in Luoshan county.

With the gradual improvement of ecology and enhanced efforts of animal protection, community-based conservation areas for egrets, Reeves’s pheasants, Chinese box turtle and crested ibises are established in mountainous areas from the Dabieshan Mountain to Qinling Mountains.

As a teacher, Luo knows the importance of education and publicity, so he goes to the mountains in the south of Luoshan county each year to disseminate bird and forest protection knowledge. Besides, cooperating with local bird guides, doctors, teachers and village cadres, Luo has established multiple liaisons and achieved progress.

Luo said he will keep going in the mountains and contribute his power to protecting rare birds.

(Source: People’s Daily Overseas Edition)

A common pheasant and a red-billed blue magpie fly in the Dabieshan Mountain. Photo by Zheng Jinqiang/People’s Daily Online

Crested ibises skim over the water of the Qinling Mountains, Yangxian county, northwest China’s Shaanxi province. Crested ibises are listed as national first-class protected species. Photo by Meng Wu/People’s Daily Online