Measures taken to ward off predators

2023-08-04 08:50:26China Daily Editor : Mo Honge ECNS App Download

Gongba Karge collects plastic waste. (Photo provided to China Daily)

One of the most important tasks Gongba Karge has performed during the past three years is helping herdsmen in Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture, Qinghai province, protect their homes and property against threats posed by brown bears and wolves.

The introduction of nature reserves in the prefecture, coupled with unprecedented biodiversity protection measures, has seen the return of wildlife on an unprecedented scale.

Gongba Karge, head of an NGO devoted to environmental protection in Nangqian county, Yushu, said the threat from predators, especially brown bears, has been almost unbearable for the herdsmen.

"The number of brown bears is growing year by year, and they show little fear of humans. They invade the herdsmen's homes for anything they can eat, and they even attack people," he said.

Explaining the rise in the number of brown bears, he said there are no natural enemies for them on the vast Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and the animals live for more than 20 years and have three to four cubs during that time.

Placed under strict legal protection, the predators are now much less fearful of humans. Brown bears are under China's second-highest level of national protection, and killing them without official permits is punishable by fines and other actions.

The NGO, which comprises 57 members from the county, discovered after talking to the herdsmen that installing guardrails for their homes has proved the most effective measure to ward off the bears. Through sponsorships, the organization helped 21 households install guardrails, and the residents only had to pay 10 percent of the cost.

Gongba Karge said brown bears used to be a rare sight in Yushu, but now they are commonplace. He added that the best way to protect the environment and ecology of grasslands and wetlands is to encourage efforts from the herdsmen, instead of hiring outsiders.

"People living in nature reserves form a strong attachment to them. They are motivated to protect the land they have lived on for generations, and are willing to do this without getting paid," he said.

Sonam Dondrub, Party chief of Tanggulashan township, Golmud, said the area has seen a sharp rise in the number of attacks from wolves and brown bears on livestock and even humans.

While grazing bans have been imposed on herdsmen in grasslands, they have also experienced damage from wild animals such as asses, yaks and Tibetan antelope.

The Party chief has appealed for measures to be explored to maintain the ecological balance among wildlife on reserves to better conserve ecology.

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