China's Largest Freshwater Lake Paradise for Birds

Relieved by the absence of fishing boats and net traps, thousands of newly migrated birds gracefully enjoy their winter vacation in east China's Poyang Lake,a State-designated nature reserve.

Some 40,000 to 50,000 white cranes, hooded cranes, red-crowned cranes, wild geese and goosanders can be seen by visitors by telescopes..

Ma Jianhua, a local official in charge of wild animal protection in Jiangxi Province, said that no birds have suffered annoyance by man this year due to stepped-up protection, which nowconsists of 24-hour surveillance from lookout posts on the nearby mountain tops.

The local people, who formerly lived by fishing on the lake, have turned to buffalo raising, with the help of a global environmental protection fund.

Since 1998, over 100 poachers have been arrested in the area, and 1,000 duck net traps and 500 items of fishing gear have been confiscated, in addition to 126 fowling rifles.

Ji Weitao, a staff member of the reserve, said that more and more villagers are coming to realize the importance of bird protection, and are volunteering to help.

This largest freshwater lake in China is home to 312 species, of which 52 are under State protection.

Rich in aquatic resources, the Poyang Lake Nature Reserve is one of the world's important wetlands.

Poyang Lake

The largest freshwater lake in China. Situated in Jiangxi Province on the Yangtze River flood plain, the area is subject to dramatic changes in water levels, shrinking to a tenth of this size in winter, when a complex of shallow lakes, mudflats and wet grasslands form around the periphery, attracting up to half a million waterbirds in some years, including 1,400 Siberian Cranes, over 2,000 White-naped Cranes and 50,000 Swan Geese.

(People's Daily November 23, 2001)