Villager devotes himself to protecting wetland for 22 years in NW China’s Qinghai

Publish Time: 2022-04-03 Author: From: People’s Daily Online

Dorje, a 71-year-old man in a village located in Zekog county, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China’s Qinghai Province, has dedicated himself to protecting a wetland for 22 years.

Photo show Dorje. (Photo/cnr.cn)

In 1999, Dorje, also a veteran Party member, volunteered to sign a contract with the local government to manage a meadow that none of his fellow villagers wanted, since most the meadow’s area is a part of the Guanxiu wetland, therefore making it unsuitable for raising cattle and sheep. Besides, illegal hunting and fishing were rampant in the wetland back then.

Since then, Dorje began protecting the wetland. His daily routine includes patrolling, picking up trash and preventing illegal hunting and fishing. It was not an easy job for the full-time ranger as he often set out very early in the morning and had to walk a long way. He even faced complaints from his family while away.

“My father usually went out for work just before dawn and returned home after dark,” said Tashi Rabten, Dorje’s eldest son, adding that his father prevented their cattle from grazing in the meadow in order to protect it.

Sometimes, it was also a dangerous job and Dorje faced violence from illegal hunters. He was once hit by an illegal hunter, with his mouth having been covered in blood. Things changed when the forestry department of the autonomous prefecture set up cameras to help combat illegal hunting in the wetland.

The ranger will rescue several injured birds nearly every year. He once saved a black-necked crane, a bird species under first-class state protection in China.

Dorje’s efforts are paying off. Guanxiu wetland has witnessed continuous improvements in its ecological environment and has seen a surge in the population of birds flocking to the area. Meanwhile, the number of bird species in the wetland has increased to more than 180, the man said, citing data from experts. The wetland was also later included as a section within a national wetland park.

Photo shows the Guanxiu wetland in Zekog county, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China’s Qinghai Province. (Photo/cnr.cn)

To better protect the wetland, Dorje invested over 200,000 yuan (about $31,474) in constructing a three-room observation building on top of a mountain near the wetland.

Dorje has also publicized environmental protection policies to his fellow villagers and shared stories about environmental protection with tourists to raise people’s awareness about environmental conservation.

“I’m a Party member. As long as I can walk, I will protect the wetland,” Dorje said firmly.

Under the influence of Dorje, more and more local people have joined him in his environmental protection efforts, including his son Tashi Rabten, who has also become a wetland ranger.

“I didn’t understand my father’s job in the past. But now I know that it’s a meaningful thing,” Tashi Rabten said excitedly.

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