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

The duration, personnel and routes of the patrols are generally not fixed. The walking distance ranges from 5 to 50 kilometers. During patrols, the officers carry essential equipment such as tents, sleeping bags, ropes, water, medicine and food — usually rice and dry rations. Each patrol group consists of two to 10 people, Li said.

In heavy fog, officers on patrol teams connect themselves with a rope to prevent falling or getting lost. In extreme weather conditions, when they lose their way or are attacked by animals, they leave their remaining supplies of food and water with younger officers to seek help.

"It is a tradition to leave the last drop of water for such officers so that our mission of protecting migrant birds is passed down from generation to generation," Li said.

Since 2009, a total of 1,516 administrative forestry cases have been investigated and handled, with 1,589 individuals penalized. More than 376 illegal hunting tools have been confiscated, along with 264 firearms and more than 2,300 rounds of ammunition.

Door-to-door visits

As well as targeting criminal offenses, officers at the police station, together with the local government, work to improve awareness among villagers of the need to protect birds and other forms of wildlife.

Police carry out door-to-door visits among villagers to promote such work, but at first, the villagers didn't listen. Li said, "Before we entered their homes, I heard them muttering: 'Here come those people again'."

He added that officers first chat with the villagers, and help them with farm work. After this, the main focus is on promoting laws and regulations related to wildlife protection, along with the legal responsibilities associated with hunting and eating wild animals.

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