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Endangered bird bounces back in NE China reserve

Xinhua, August 20, 2014 Adjust font size:

The number of Chinese mergansers, an endangered bird species under the state class-one protection, has increased from about ten in 1997 to more than 70 in a northeast China nature reserve.

Over the past 17 years, the reserve has reduced human interference in natural environment to the lowest, which plays a key role in saving the species, said Chen Gang, head of the Bishui Chinese Merganser Nature Reserve Administration in Yichun City, Heilongjiang Province.

Chinese mergansers, dubbed the "giant pandas" of birds, are species with a history of more than 27 million years. Its number is about 1,000 worldwide, with Russia's Far East and northeast China as their major reproduction bases.

After the provincial reserve was founded in 1997, fishing and random chopping of trees were banned, said Chen. Overfishing and destruction of forests and wetlands once brought the species to the verge of extinction in the area.

During their reproduction season, reserve staff supply food and protect their nests, said Chen.

In late spring and early summer this year, five pairs of Chinese mergansers produced dozens of nestlings in the wetlands of the reserve, according to Chen.

The species has very strict requirements for environment, which should have forests of old trees for nests and clear creeks full of small aquatic creatures for food.

Chen said he hoped more money could be allocated to the reserve, which faces financial strains, for scientific research and better protection of the species.

An application for the upgrading of the reserve into a state-level one was submitted to the State Forestry Administration last year.

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