So Sad! What Shouldn’t Have Happened Still … | Investigation on the Cause of Death of the Oriental Storks
2019/12/15 17:17:00 本站

At around 11 a.m. on December 5, six volunteers of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) arrived at the Caofeidian wetland, Hebei province. The freezing temperature bitterly shaves everyone's face.


Everyone was bundled up and quickened the pace. They were in the boundary of the seventh farm of Caofeidain. All the volunteers felt anxious when they got closer to the farm because the large area of shrimp pond is located in the core field of the provincial reserve for bird and wetland. That means this area is supposed to be safe from man-made threats.


A big white dead bird was found on the riverbank. The deep river discouraged volunteers to draw near. Wang Dadan, an experienced volunteer, took a picture with his telephoto lens, and then confirmed it was an oriental white stork. There was also a fragmentary pigeon body lying on the bank. Volunteers called the police.


After about two hours and a half, the police officer of the Caofeidian District arrived on the scene. Later, the relevant colleagues from wetland authority and Tangshan municipal Natural Resources Bureau arrived. Thanks to the reminder by volunteers, the police officers prepared raincoats so they could easily wade across the river.


They made a body check for the dead oriental white stork and found no injury. No poison bait was discovered nearby. "A thin layer of frost has formed around its moving track, so it is estimated that the stork had died for a period," a police officer said.


Wang Dadan has been dedicated to migratory bird conservation for the past decade and saved many birds including oriental white stork. "If it (the bird) is poisoned, we usually inject a dose of atropine to mitigate. In most cases, the poisoned birds can be saved with the timely rescue." Wang checked the body of the dead stork and made a preliminary conclusion that it died of poisoning. Volunteers assumed that the poison bait could be within two kilometers around, and perhaps there were other storks that suffered from poisoning behavior as they usually act in a group. The police officers would give a conclusion after dissection and mentioned that there was another oriental white stork reported to die of poisoning not long ago.


We patrol every single day to protect the stork, and we don’t expect these incidents…”, the volunteer of Community Conservation Area for oriental white stork (CCAfa) said this winter migratory season has witnessed 13 storks died, 12 of which were seen by volunteers. Only one stork was lucky enough to be rescued. Two days ago, eight oriental white storks died together in Tianjin in the location where volunteers have repeatedly suggested to relevant authorities to strengthen patrol and supervision. The tragedy could have been avoided.


On the morning of December 4th, CBCGDF volunteers Tan and Wang drove to patrol like usual. When arriving at Yonghe Bridge south, they saw white objects in fishponds. They hurried to confirm with a telescope and found an oriental white stork bending over the edge of the pond. As they approached the fishpond, everyone was astonished by a crowd of dead storks lying before them. Wang said they called the police immediately and confirm the number of victims: eight oriental white storks were dead. On November 29th, volunteers Jia and Zhongzheng saw about 200 storks in the same place when they conducted routine patrol just five days ago.


The pond is on the side of the road and is exposed to passerby's attention. I was concerned about that", Jia has kept a record of the crowd of oriental white storks and consulted a local worker for more information about them. He learned that this group of storks has been staying here for almost one week. Feeling afraid that the birds could be suffered from being poaching or poisoning, Jia has guarded them all the daytime. He noticed that they stayed overnight at the pond which is in the boundary of two Tianjin municipal administrative districts: Dongli District and Ninghan District. They would naturally fly to the other side if they were driven by villagers from the one side. Volunteer Zhongzheng called the relevant department of Dongli District. But the officer arrived and found the area under the Ninghe District's jurisdiction, so he made a phone call to the Ninghe authorities to handle it.


“The officers of Ninghe District arrived after about one hour, and you can tell the impatience from their behavior. One of the county head rudely turned the stork out the boundary as perhaps he thought it would be out of his responsibility as long as the bird is not in his jurisdiction." Zhongzheng stopped the behavior and repeatedly advised the officers of the forestry department, "Keep close eyes to the storks in case of being poisoned." Not until about 11 p.m., volunteers left.


On the morning of November 20, Wang and Tan almost gave their lives to save an oriental white stork when patrolling in Binhai New District, Tianjin. They learned from local shutterbugs that there was a big bird lying along the fishpond and had no reaction when being photographed. According to their experience, Wang and Tang made the assumption that there was something wrong with it.


“When I walked to it by ten meters, I accidentally fell into a piece of the mire and could not move a step." Quagmire is the biggest challenge faced by rescuers and volunteers in the wild. Fortunately, Tan rushed to Wang in time, thus helping him get out of the mud. Sadly, they found the oriental white stork was already dead.


“Are you volunteers? Why do you do this?" In the face of local police officers' doubts, Wang and Tang gave their answers, "we conserve the wildlife because we love and care about it". "Can you make a living by such voluntary work?" "No."


The fact is that an increasing number of volunteers from all walks of life are fighting to safeguard the ecological environment for migratory birds like the oriental white stork. They hold the same belief that the future would get better with multiple efforts. Human beings should share the earth with all wildlife.


The elegant creature, oriental white stork, is a globally endangered species. According to the statistics published in January 2019, the population is less than 4,000. From the eastern coastal area to the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River are their wintering areas. Every single loss of oriental white stork will be a great regret to nature.


“What volunteers can do is still very limited as the patrol scope fails to cover every migratory bird moving space. Therefore, it is urgent to call for joint efforts," a volunteer said. Bird conservation and habitat protection require wide contributions made by governmental authorities, environmental organizations and scientific institutions. There is still a long way to go.


When the volunteers left the Caifeidian wetland, it was nearly 4 p.m. They looked at the oriental white storks hovering overhead who were deeply attracted by the wetland. Maybe the storks lingered for seeking some food to release starvation. However, there wasn’t much shrimp or fish. What volunteers can see were merely lifeless ponds.

(Photo credit: CBCGDF volunteers)

Original Chinese article:

By / Wang Yanqing