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China Protects Rare Birds in Dongting Lake Area
China has allocated 7.55 million yuan (US$0.91 million) for a first-phase fund to build more facilities in East Dongting Lake Nature Reserve to protect rare birds there.

This is part in a series of efforts to protect the birds whose habitat is rapidly deteriorating.

An official from the reserve said that they are also considering enclosing some key areas in the reserve inhabited by birds.

Covering an area of 190,000 hectares (469,490 acres), the reserve is the home to more than 200 species of birds, including 39 listed under the international protection.

The reserve is also one of the east Asian continent's important habitats for migratory birds, and is named in the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as a habitat for waterfowl.

In recent years, random poaching and damage to the habitat of animals have caused a decrease in wildlife, especially birds, in the region. Statistics show that there are only about 100 white cranes left in the area, compared with 800 previously.

Pollution is considered one of the biggest killers of the birds. Polluted water has led to a drastic decline in the birds' staple food. Statistics show that every year 150 million tons of urban and industrial sewage has been dumped in the lake.

The situation has attracted attention from overseas animal protection organizations. The reserve has set up long-term cooperation relations with wildlife protection organizations from Japan, Russia and the United States. It has also been listed as one of the trial zones to receive aid from the Global Environmental Fund (GEF).

(People’s Daily July 23, 2002)

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