Wildlife Conservation is Human Business: Conservation Professor

October 4, 2022

BEIJING – Analysis of millions of infrared photos and tens of thousands of videos shows that the Sanjiangyuan region in the heart of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has one of the most complete food chains in the world.

The analysis has been carried out by the Shan Shui Conservation Center for more than a decade.

Lyu Zhi, 57, a professor of conservation biology at Peking University, who founded the center in 2007 and has worked on the preservation of Sanjiangyuan for 17 years, said: “Nature conservation is not shouting slogans related to keeping rare animals alive. It’s not something you can learn from textbooks.

“Reality always tells us what the problem is, and in addition to protecting animals and the environment, we must pay attention to people who share the natural environment with wildlife.”

As deputy director of the Center for Nature and Society at Peking University and a member of the advisory board of the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration programme, Lyu is a leading figure in biodiversity conservation. in China. Since her 20s, Lyu has been dedicated to protecting and researching endangered wildlife such as pandas and snow leopards, promoting the establishment of protected areas and related legislation and policies.

She has also guided the sustainable development of rural areas with ecological diversity in southwest China and supported environmental protection non-governmental organizations in solving climate change and ecological crises.

The conservation center has trained more than 3,000 rangers for Sanjiangyuan National Park, worked with the park management committee to develop supervision systems, and provided product design solutions for nature experience programs.

At the beginning of 2019, a total of 22 local families hosting visitors, who came to Duoyong Village in Madoi County, Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, to explore nature, earned a combined income of over one million yuan ($142,500), according to the conservation center. Forty-five percent of that revenue went to local hosts for their work, while 45 percent went to the village community for their efforts to protect the environment and show visitors the best of nature. The village has created a conservation fund with the remaining 10% to subsidize farmers whose poultry is eaten by wild animals.

Lyu considers this operating model to be reasonable and comforting.

The lives of local people are affected in ways that city dwellers, who travel thousands of miles in the hope of seeing snow leopard tracks, never imagine. The inhabitants’ wild yaks and sheep could be eaten by animals such as brown bears and snow leopards, while their shotguns are idle, as hunting wild animals is strictly prohibited.

Lyu said, “By meeting the survival needs of the inhabitants, we are also meeting our need to keep Earth a beautiful place to explore – it’s an exchange. Such a system enables herders to derive tangible benefits from wildlife conservation, making the relationship between man and nature more positive.

Lyu was touched by the spontaneous kindness of the shepherds. She said that when she started working on the conservation of Przewalski’s gazelle, which is only found in the wild in China, she discovered that the species was starving. An elderly shepherd even bought fodder for his sheep, which cost him 10,000 yuan a year, while allowing gazelles to eat on his pasture.

Lyu said people in Tibetan areas believe in the connection between all beings in the world, regardless of species. They think a bug on the ground could be the reincarnation of a friend or relative.

“Local residents are surprisingly environmentally conscious, believing in the equality of all beings and the reincarnation of life. They healed me of my lack of faith in humanity,” she said.

Lyu views animal conservation as vitally important to the balance between nature and humans.

“Such conservation is not really about animals, it’s about humans,” she added. “Animals are always trying very hard to live their lives. It’s a question of whether people are going to let them live, let them live in the forests or make a meal of them for dinner.

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