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Like father, like son

10-04-2012 14:04 BJT Special Report:Rediscover Ngari |

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By CCTV Liao Ruochen

On the vast plains of Chiang Tang, in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, the best way to protect the wild animals is to patrol the land regularly. Some conservationists there have been upholding their post for decades, and CCTV reporter Liao Ruochen shows us some of the difficulties they face.

Tibet, the closest place to heaven. Religion runs deep in the culture of this land, and that has also shaped the people’s relationship with the wild animals.

The people of Tibet revere nature and all forms of life in it. For some, they have put their faith into action, by taking up wildlife protection as their duty and responsibility.

Deep in the Chiang Tang Nature Reserve, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Aru village is such a tiny settlement that it cannot be found on any map. This is also an outpost for wildlife conservationists, and home to one very special conservationist. His name is Dorjee Dhondup. He was the first college graduate in this rural village, and the only one for a long time. He has dedicated his life to the wilderness surrounding Aru village.

Things were much simpler back then. Village officials came to me and asked me to be a conservationist. They said that a college student should set up a model for fellow folks to follow. I did not hesitate much. At first it was very difficult. We had no transportation, and in winter when the snow was knee-deep, it was almost impossible to find the way. There was no cell-phone signal here until recently, so whenever I discovered poachers, I had to travel over 400 kilometers to the nearest police station to report it. Sometimes, by the time the police arrived, the poachers had already left. Now we have motorbikes. Things are much better, but I cannot ride a motorbike, so I take my son with me.

Dorjee Dhondup is now 58 years old, and still takes his responsibility seriously. His patrols often take him away from home for months, away from his son and two grandsons. His son is a quiet lad, who is a little shy, his father’s choice also changed his life, he never saw much of the outside world apart from this little village, and life as an conservationist is all he knows, but he did not complain, and he also chose this path once he was old enough.

My father cannot ride a motorbike, so I ride the bike and take him with me when we are on patrols. His job is very hard, sometimes very dangerous, especially in winter. And he is getting old. These patrols are becoming more of a challenge. Frankly speaking, I worry for him, but our family has always supported him, and I will continue to do so. When we go out to patrol in the winter, after a fresh snow. When I see those beautiful animals running freely, I feel everything is worth it.

Dorjee could have used his knowledge to become rich. A college graduate was a rare thing in the region. But he chose to be a conservationist, and receives a meager stipend. There are hundreds of volunteers like him, and they reflect the predicament of the whole wildlife conservation program. They are in urgent need of better equipment, means of transportation, and training.

Each patrol needs to cover a vast area of land, and the best transportation through the rough terrain is a motorbike.

For these conservationists whose yearly stipend is only 400 US dollars, a motorbike is a luxury few can afford. But the outside world has not forgotten their work and the land they were sworn to protect. On our journey to Ali county, we met one company that was bringing a sorely-needed gift to them.

Qu Jing, representative of Perfect Corporation in Tibet, said, "In fact, we are a food company and rarely cross paths with wildlife protection issues, but while we were visiting a plantation in Tibet we learned the difficulties of the conservationists in the region. We decided that the least we could do was to help them with transportation, so they can better protect the natural environment here."

With their effort, the number of wild animals are steadily growing, and the villagers are also learning how to get along with their wild neighbors. These two unusual patrol partners, father and son, will continue to be watching over this land, and watching over the promise of a beautiful future.

The conservationists are the keepers and caretakers. The hammer that punishes the poachers is the forest police. We will bring you another story about the life of a forest police officer in tomorrow’s program.

 

Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source: CCTV.com

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