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Zhuhai Takes Birds Under Its Wing
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Zhuhai has taken great strides toward transforming itself into a sanctuary for birds over the past five years.


This city in southern Guangdong has so far set aside a combined area of 180 square kilometers to provide hospitable living conditions for local and migratory birds.



"What we are trying to do is to create an ideal environment for birds to stay here," said Yang Yao, vice-director of the Zhuhai agriculture bureau.


Since 2002, the city has established 12 natural protection zones and 131 natural protection blocks in areas that are home to major bird populations in a bid to "safeguard wild bird resources and their dwelling environment", Yang said.


"Around 200 kinds of birds now fly to Zhuhai to winter and reproduce."


Zhuhai's geographic location and climate make it a major destination for migratory birds from around the world.


"Based on our initial estimates, as many as 320 kinds of birds live in Zhuhai, accounting for 65 percent of Guangdong's total," said Lu Haiyang, manager of the of Zhuhai wildlife and plant protection management bureau.


"About 130 kinds of birds live in the city's Dangan island provincial natural protection zone alone."


Lu said Zhuhai had undertaken numerous efforts to protect birds. Among them are the Migratory Birds Project and Loving Bird Week, which is aimed at mobilizing local support for birds.


"As a result of such efforts, people are much more aware of the need to protect birds," Lu said.


Improving environmental conditions and the public's growing awareness of ecological issues have provided the conditions necessary to lure back large numbers of birds in recent years.


Since December 2004, the sight of thousands of Siguangliang birds simultaneously flying to their nests every night has been a regular feature for people living in the city's Doumen area. And in March 2006 hundreds of egrets and herons were spotted in the forest on Zhuhai's Hengqin island.


The same month, several big mouth crows, which environmentalists refer to as "environment cleaners", suddenly appeared in Zhuhai's Qi'ao wetlands area after a three-year absence. The largest group contained as many as five birds.


Qi'ao's forest is a major stopping point for three kinds of migratory birds found in China. It is also home to more than 40 kinds of migratory birds during fall and winter, including some protected by international treaties, such as big and medium egrets.


(China Daily April 12, 2007)

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