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Rare Birds Back at Yellow River Estuary
More than 20 kinds of rare birds have reappeared in the estuary area of the Yellow River this spring thanks to improvement in the local ecological environment.

The estuary in the Yellow River Delta State Nature Reserve, which is China's largest wetland located in eastern China's Shandong Province, covers an area of about 153,000 hectares and used to be home to more than 4 million birds of about 260 varieties.

However, since the early 1970s, the lower reaches of the Yellow River have occasionally dried up mainly due to a huge increase in water consumption by the industrial and agricultural sectors.

Furthermore, the shrinking water flow and dry spells have worsened the ecological environment of the nature reserve, which has also been devastated by human activities.

As a result, not only did the local residents suffer from a shrinking fresh water wetland, desertification and salinization, but also some rare birds were forced to move their home out of the area.

To rectify the situation, the Yellow River Water Resources Committee began taking measures in 1999 to control water consumption and distribution in the Yellow River valley as well as restore vegetation and the ecological environment along the river.

The work has gradually paid off. During the last three years, no section of China's second longest river, known as the "Mother River" and the "cradle of the Chinese nation," has been known to dry up.

"Because of continuous water supply from the Yellow River, the area of the fresh water wetland in its lower reaches has been increasing and the ecological environment at the estuary has been gradually rehabilitated," said Lu Juanzhang, an official with the reserve.

According to Lu, visitors can now see many precious and rare birds, like snow geese and white storks, which had disappeared for decades. Some newcomers, such as black storks, have also found a paradise in the reserve's reed marshes.

(eastday.com May 15, 2003)

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