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Sun, 38, became a ranger following a training stint with WWF-China. He works with the Wangqin Forestry Bureau in Jilin Province in northeast China. The area is part of the Amur-Heilong tiger habitat, that straddles China and Russia.
Patrolling in all weatherThe rangers conduct foot patrol, be it in the hot summer or the harsh icy winter that northeast China is known for. During the summer, they begin patrolling when the ground is still wet with the early morning dew, often climbing four or five mountains in a day.
“In summer, we would be streaming with sweat by the time we finished patrolling for the day,” said Sun. “While during winter, our clothes would be wet from perspiration inside and frozen on the outside. Our face and hands would all be frozen too. We can’t even take off our shoes when we reach home.”
Overcoming fearsThe rangers do get frightened at times when they realised that a black bear had just left the area they were patrolling or when they actually bumped into one while in the forest. You have to have your wits about you and persistence to overcome these fears, says Sun, who is married with 1 child.
When Sun first started out as a ranger, poachers would oppose him when he tried to stop them. Gradually, as he gained experience and reached out to them more, many poachers began to understand his position and soon gave up poaching. He is very proud of this achievement.
Memorable incidentOne incident is etched in Sun’s mind. This was during the winter of 2011 when he accompanied Limin Feng from the Beijing Normal University, to check on the automatic infrared cameras that had been set up in the mountain area to monitor wildlife presence.
“We were so happy to see photos of black bear and the Amur leopard,” Sun recalled. But their happiness was marred by a photo showing two people carrying guns.
“They were definitely poachers,” said Sun. “So we immediately lodged a report with our supervisors.”
Going after poachersFollowing the report, Sun accompanied the police to trace the footprints left by the poachers. They tracked for two days and though it was very hard and tiring, they finally found that no animal was taken.
“From the footprints, we could determine that the poachers failed in their attempt and left with nothing,” said Sun. Following police investigations, the poachers were arrested and sentenced.
"I love my job"With several years of experience living and patrolling the forest, Sun knows a lot about wildlife behaviour. He is skilled in tracking and identifying wildlife tracks. He has helped set up camera traps, which have successfully captured the Amur tiger and Amur leopard on film many times.
Says Sun: “Although patrolling is hard and dangerous, I love my job. I am pleased to be a ranger protecting wildlife in the forest, to let them have a home.”
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During winter, our clothes would be wet from perspiration inside and frozen on the outside. Our face and hands would all be frozen too. We can’t even take off our shoes when we reach home.