Rural police station extends helping hand to nature

By LI YINGQING in Kunming and CHEN MEILING | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-21 07:27
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Wildlife on Dazhong Mountain, which forms part of the Ailao Mountains National Nature Reserve, is protected by officers at Hongtupo Forest Police Station in Chuxiong Yi autonomous prefecture, Yunnan province. HOU WEIJING/FOR CHINA DAILY

In 1984, the Hongtupo Forest Police Station was established to crack down on illegal hunting and protect migratory birds. Officers at the station worked on the mountain from September to February, tracking the paths of migratory birds.

Initially, police patrolled the mountain without any major life necessities. There were no communication signals, and officers slept in tents despite the cold and the threat from wild animals, until a small shelter was built at the foot of the mountain in 2010.

Police officer Liu Yan said: "The toughest time was winter, when my quilt was never dry. When I was on duty, I walked long distances and sometimes found myself separated from my colleagues. I was all alone in the vast mountains. Words can't describe how I felt on such occasions."

Yang Zhengqiang, another police officer, said the forest terrain is steep, and poachers sometimes hide in the area.

"At night, when we are looking for poachers, we don't make a sound or use our flashlights. We once saw a campfire in the distance, but while crossing a ravine, I slipped and fell. My colleagues didn't notice, and I was afraid the accident would affect the operation, so I didn't dare make any noise. When dawn broke, I realized a high cliff was just a little further ahead of me."

Li Qiangao, former head of the police station, said: "In addition to mosquitoes and leeches, we needed to look out for wild boars, bears and venomous snakes. We often rolled around on the ground while capturing poachers, and when we stood up, we were covered in blood, as there were also many thorny plants in the forest."

He added that the police sometimes fell into ditches or became lost when they chased the poachers. Li once walked for two hours along a stream until finding a way off the mountain when the sun rose.

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