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January 13, 2018

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Birdman’s mission to fix broken wings

EVERY year from October to March Poyang Lake is the destination for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, and Li Chunru has been taking care of them at the Poyang Lake National Nature Reserve on a voluntary basis for more than 30 years.

The 72-year-old used to be a physician in the county hospital in Duchang, Jiangxi Province. But on a cold winter’s day in 1983, hundreds of bird’s nests, near Duchang, perished due to the extreme cold and wind drills.

When Li heard of the news, he joined in the rescue expedition with his friends and neighbors where they managed to bring 400 dying birds home for treatment.

Poyang Lake is not only China’s largest freshwater lake, but also Asia’s largest winter habitat for some critically endangered cranes. Every year about 95 percent of the world’s white cranes, 50 percent of white-naped cranes and 60 percent of swan geese spend winter at the Poyang Lake National Nature Reserve.

According to the reserve, more than 570,000 migratory birds of 63 categories visited the lake area in Jiangxi Province last year, higher than the average over the past six years. Among them, around 220,000 live in the nine lakes within the reserve.

Li has devoted all of his spare time to the wild bird service. After retirement, he initiated a “hospital” for migratory birds in the reserve, where Li, with the help of the local villagers and volunteers, managed to bring over 50,000 wounded wild birds out of danger.


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