Wuhan crayfish farmer helps preserve endangered bird species

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BEIJING, Nov. 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A news report from chinadaily.com.cn

On the morning of Nov 5, Zhu Xiangneng, a 38-year-old crayfish farmer, steadily held a second-hand professional camera by his crayfish pond in Donghu High-Tech Development Zone, Wuhan.

Through the viewfinder, he saw four ducks on the water’s surface cruising leisurely under dry lotus dozens of meters away.

“Here they are!” Zhu shouted out with joy.

Zhu has been waiting for several days for this time: the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, which is taking place in his hometown, Wuhan. The city is well-known as the “city of rivers”.

Baer's pochard shows up in Chenhu Lake Wetland Nature Reserve. [Photo by Wei Bin]

The wild duck that Zhu cherished so much is Baer’s pochard (Aythya baeri), a State-level endangered animal species in China and a critically endangered species in the world. Less than 2,000 mature individuals are estimated to exist around the world.

It was not until mid-to-late April that Zhu met a member of the Wuhan Bird Watching Association who came to watch birds near his pond. He then learned that the group of wild ducks was critically endangered and his pond for crayfish farming could be the third breeding site for the little creatures in Wuhan.

“Letting birds breed in my pond has little effect on my business and I would love to protect them,” Zhu said.

From April to September this year, the most exciting thing for Zhu was to sort out videos recorded by the thermal cameras once a week and check the status of his bird friends.

“During the breeding season this year, Baer’s pochards built 10 nests in my pond and laid 99 eggs. Two nests were destroyed by weasels, but 73 ducklings hatched during that time.”

Since then, Zhu has acted like a nanny. He walked around the pond twice a day in the morning and evening to prevent anyone from poaching or disturbing the birds.

Zhu said that now he can identify more than 50 kinds of birds. Those unknown wild birds he saw in his childhood can now be easily recognized. “Like the birds, I find my flyway and feel more connected to the world.”

When it comes to his plans for the next several years, Zhu said he has decided to keep the extensive farming of crayfish in his pond to offer these birds a more favorable place to live.

Baer's pochard shows up in Chenhu Lake Wetland Nature Reserve. [Photo by Wei Bin]

Cheng Rongxing, Ma Wenjun and Yang Ran contributed to this story.

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SOURCE chinadaily.com.cn

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