Endangered birds protected after South China typhoon

Aug. 01, 2014 00:10:03

2Egrets' picture taken at Hongsha Village in Fangchenggang City of Guangxi. By Lu Boan/Xinhua 

It has been two weeks since super typhoon Rammasun roared into southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Trees were felled and roofs of houses were ripped off. Local people are now busy rebuilding their homes along the coast after the battering.

Also affected by the impact of the typhoon were birds. One of them was the egret.

Huang Jilin, of Hongsha Village in Fangchenggang City of Guangxi, saved more than 200 egrets the day the typhoon hit the area.

He and his family rescued the birds despite the heavy rain and gusts. There were egrets all around his home. Sadly some died.

Huang buried the dead egrets and took care of the injured ones, feeding them small fish, and keeping them in paper boxes.

The bigger egrets have been sent back to forests, while the smaller ones are still being nursed, said Su Haimei, Huang's daughter-in-law.

ShowBFileSu Haimei, Huang's daughter-in-law, is taking care of the injured egret at home.By Lu Boan/Xinhua

The egret is a water bird that requires specific living conditions. Since ancient times, Chinese people have admired white egrets, which have been celebrated in poetry and art.

The egret is one of 11 endangered bird species in China. Thousands of them fly to Hongsha Village from February to July each year. Tourists and photographers flock to Hongsha to see the rare species.

Hongsha has seven breeding sites for egrets, where thousands rest and breed every spring and summer.

Sightings are common near the Beibu Gulf in Guangxi, thanks to the efforts of locals who have safeguarded the species.

He Ruhua is one of two people who work at the National Natural Reserve of Beilun Estuary in Guangxi. Their job is to guard the forests but also to protect egrets, as the birds have their nests in the trees.

He said some egrets were wounded in the typhoon and that some were found dead in the woods. He found an injured one among broken branches while patrolling the forests.

"The egret was about two months old and had not eaten for days," said He.

He had to take the egret to the reserve's base and treat it, where other baby egrets were also being attended to.

According to officials from forestry authorities, locals protect the birds, especially the ones nearby their homes.

Chen Zicheng, 86, has been a volunteer egret protector for more than half a century. He followed his father's example to become an egret protector when he was young and now his son and grandson also protect the birds.

Chen said the situation has improved since local people were made aware that the egret was listed as a national protected animal in 1989. Local authorities said there are more than 2,000 egrets living in forests in the National Natural Reserve of Beilun Estuary.

A major worry for Chen is that egrets are losing their homes as people are chopping down trees.

"If the birds lose their homes, how can they live here?" asked Chen.

He said injured egrets he has treated have flown back to him from time to time. "Egrets have a tactile side and understand human nature." 

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