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Going wild

Updated: 2016-05-16 08:52:57

( China Daily )

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Ecotourists from Beijing venture into Hebei province's wilderness not only for sightseeing but also to learn about the importance and methodologies of environmental protection.[Photo provided to China Daily]

A nonprofit organizes camping trips where children bring home wolf feces as souvenirs, after they howl like the canines to terrify boars. Yang Feiyue reports on these expeditions.

Beijinger Hou Yanlin spent April's Tomb Sweeping holiday tromping the wilderness, hunting for wild animals to shoot-with infrared cameras, rather than guns. To protect rather than kill them.

The ecotourists ventured into Hebei province's wilderness not only for sightseeing but also to learn about the importance and methodologies of environmental protection on the trip organized by the Beijing-based nonprofit, Black Leopard Wildlife Conservation Station.

That said, she did enjoy the views of green mountains bursting with pink peach blossoms and white apricot blooms.

"It was a different experience from anything I'd done before," she says.

"And I learned a lot about life sciences."

Organizers taught participants how to track wild animals and monitor bird movements, while explaining environmental protection's significance in-depth.

Hou learned to detect wild boars' traces left and how to install infrared cameras to capture different species on film.

She was one of about 100 people who signed up for the monthly eco-tour.

"Our activities are designed to help people find themselves in nature," says the station's head, Li Li.

"Urbanites face tremendous pressure. Most live monotonous existences between work and daily tasks. They've forgotten the joys of engaging nature."

The nonprofit was founded in 2000 to undertake and raise public awareness about biodiversity protection. The idea of bringing visitors to project sites developed 13 years later.

It runs operations in Beijing's Nanhe and Sibeiyu villages, and Hebei's Yeshanpo town and Caishu'an village.

The nonprofit now focuses on protecting black storks, migratory birds and their habitats. It claims to have saved more than 2,100 animals under first- and second-tier State protection. The base's stork numbers have grown from two or three to 60.

"They're beautiful big black birds with red eyes, beaks and feet. They look purplish-green in the sunlight," Li says.

Tourists who join its trips view the fowl through telescopes. They can examine the slight differences in their eyes.

"If they're lucky, they can see them breed," Li says.

Black Leopard has taught local aquaculturalists to deepen their ponds so the storks won't snatch their fish.

The endangered storks' proliferation draws birdwatchers and photographers.

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