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At the time, Dong, 45, had become interested in protecting wild animals after a scientist on a wildlife survey explained to him the importance of wildlife in maintaining ecological balance. That winter, an Amur tiger was killed. It changed Dong’s thinking drastically.
War against poaching“I realised we have to take urgent action to protect wildlife,” said Dong. “We cannot let endangered species go extinct in our generation, otherwise we would be failing our children and their children. Since then, I began to devote myself to fight the war against poaching and to protect wildlife.”
Dong, married with 1 child, loves the mountains and rivers in his hometown of Yingchun. He remembers there being lush forests and rich wildlife while growing up in the area. Many residents liked hunting, as did Dong. Now you are more likely to see Dong looking out for poachers and snares while patrolling the mountains in Wandashan, part of the Amur-Heilong tiger landscape that straddles China and Russia.
Injured by poachersDong goes on patrol every winter, even when it is 40 degrees below zero. “I often walked tens of kilometres or staked out for a few hours in the wild mountains together with my colleagues. When we catch poachers, we confiscate their traps and also have to remove all the snares set by them,” he said.
Between 2007 to mid 2012, Dong has discovered and stopped poaching 12 times, removed more than 600 snares and collected two shotguns.
Anti-poaching is sometimes very dangerous, says Dong. In November 2006, while out patrolling, Dong chanced upon four poachers armed with guns and dogs. “I rushed over to stop them and they escaped in a panic. A few months later, they took revenge on me, injuring my head,” said Dong.
Not deterredSuch incidents have not deterred Dong from continuing to protect wildlife. Although he has been attacked and challenged while working to stem out poaching, he has no regrets as he knows that innocent wild animals would not be caught when a poacher is stopped.
This avid wildlife protector also voluntarily prints and distributes flyers in several dozens forestry farms in Yingchun Forestry Bureau, where he works, to tell residents to protect wildlife.
Feeling fulfilled“I feel fulfilled with the 22 years I have spent working to stop poaching,” said Dong. “I had thought of giving up when I felt tired or was not understood by others. But I kept on and will continue in anti-poaching work as I believe greatly in protecting the forests and wild animals.”
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I rushed over to stop them and they escaped in a panic. A few months later, they took revenge on me, injuring my head.