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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Officers fetch water from a stream during a patrol on Dazhong Mountain. HOU WEIJING/FOR CHINA DAILY

To change the villagers' views, police also organized promotional activities in schools to get their message across to children.

Li said, "From resistance to acceptance, and then to support, each stage has taken a long time, ranging from several years to more than a decade, or even several decades."

Forty years ago, when he was a child, Li lived in a village in the area. One day, he saw adults lighting a bonfire and walking into the mountains with bamboo poles. Migratory birds flew toward the fire, falling victim one by one to the poles. The villagers collected the birds and took them home to eat.

"The cries of the birds echoed around the mountains, and also triggered my desire to protect them," Li said. After asking his father how he could help save migratory birds, his father told Li he could do so by becoming a police officer.

In 1999, Li graduated from a police training school, and for 18 years worked as chief of Hongtupo Forest Police Station, performing his duty of protecting the birds.

"Years ago, people thought birds were there to be hunted and eaten. Now, even children know that birds are to be observed and loved. The 'bird-hunting mountain' has become the 'bird-protecting' mountain," Li said.

Years of hard work have paid off. Since 2019, there have been no reports of wild birds being hunted on Dazhong Mountain. The police station now operates mainly to promote avian protection and wild animal rescue work.

Modern technological aids such as video surveillance, infrared cameras and drones are used to monitor poachers, fires and the behavior of wild animals.

If migratory birds encounter strong sources of light from cities or villages along their flight paths, they are easily misled and deviate from their intended route.

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