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Tibetan herdsmen help protect migrant birds

(China Tibet Online)

16:16, December 07, 2012

Gyawo Tsering, a herdsman working in a sheep-breeding squad in Gangca County, northwest China's Qinghai Province, has volunteered to protect the aquatic birds in the wetland of Qinghai Lake for many years.

Naren wetland, located by the side of Qinghai Lake, is a boundless stretch of mysterious and pure land. There are unfrozen spring mouths all year long and the unique ecological environment forms a paradise for birds. Whooper swans come here every winter. As the intersection of two paths for migratory birds, Qinghai Lake is an important place for birds to rest and transit.

In order to monitor the aquatic birds and prevent them from being disturbed and scared by mankind, Gyawo Tsering would spend several hours each day at the lake for inspection. He said "I have to climb up the steep cliffs and get close contact with the birds occasionally to take photos of their nests."

His tasks are not only protection of the aquatic birds, but also observation and record-keeping. Usually he would bring some food and cinematographic equipments to shoot at various places such as lakesides, wet lands, grasslands and cliffs.
Right now, Gyawo Tsering is an employee of the management bureau of Qinghai Lake National Reserve. His title is volunteer monitor of Naren wild animals.

There are 43 volunteers including Gyawo Tsering from 25 to 55 years old near Qinghai Lake. Most of them are herdsmen from nearby Tibetan Autonomous prefectures. They spend their spare time participating in the protection of diverse animals.

He said Qinghai Lake is home to Tibetans living around it. They are deeply conscious of natural and environmental protection as they depend on the natural resources and uphold the philosophy of harmony between mankind and nature in Tibetan Buddhism.

According to Wu Yonglin, the management bureau has been taking sweeping measures to protect wild animals by resorting to GPS technology to monitor the daily life and migration of the birds and by implementing the conservation and recovery of the wetland.
"Efforts from the government only is not enough, so we have to mobilize efforts from the folks" said Wu Yonglin.

Xie Xiancuo, a Tibetan ethnic girl aged 19, has more than three years experience as a volunteer. In 2009, her father once serving as a volunteer passed away. Since then Xie and her sister took up their father's cause, shouldering the responsibility of protecting the migrant birds and fishes in Qinghai Lake.

In winter, Xie would rush seven to eight miles to Qinghai Lake after her pasturing work. She would count the numbers of whooper swans to see whether there are any death cases or other wild animals hunt by barging into the reserve.
So far, 1,700 whooper swans have arrived in Qinghai Lake and 3, 000 or 4,000 whooper swans are expected to come over here during the peak time.

"When spring comes, I will stand by the lake and pray for those beautiful creatures when the swans flatter their wings into the sky and I hope they will come back the next year." Xie said.

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