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Chinese participation contributes to
wildlife protection: conservationist

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- Increasing public awareness of wildlife protection among Chinese people and their participation will make a difference in the global cause of wildlife conservation, a famed Chinese conservationist told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Zhuo Qiang, also known and aliased as “Simba”, said China, as a major developing country with an earnest sense of responsibility towards the shared destiny of humankind, is actively participating in the global pursuit of an ecological civilization, and this has brought hope and progress to the cause.

Over the weekend, a few hundred attendees from home and abroad joined Zhuo in the “Run for Wildlife”, a charitable event held on the western outskirts of Beijing.

While running up and down a 5-km hilly path across the forest park, participants vowed to reject wildlife products and do what they can to protect endangered species and defend the world ecosystem.

“It is delightful to see more and more Chinese people become aware and join the cause to protect wildlife,” Zhuo said, who flew back from Kenya to support the event organized by “Nature Guardian”, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting habitat conservation, public education and international exchange between China and Africa.

In 2011, Zhuo traveled to Mara-Serengeti savannah, where he has been staying with the indigenous Maasai people and working with local conservationists at Ol Kinyei Conservancy, a sanctuary for wildlife covering 260,000 hectares of wilderness.

In recent years, Zhuo and his team have welcomed many Chinese visitors including children who offered to volunteer for the project.

Coming back from Kenya, Chinese volunteers shared their experience and called for an immediate end to the consumption of wildlife products, such as ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales and big cat bones.

Fourteen-year-old Wang Jingyi volunteered at Ol Kinyei last summer.

“I will make sure that nobody in my family or any of my friends consume wildlife products,” she said at the event on Sunday. “Really, the lions are not scary. Humans are more frightening to them than they are to us.”

Zhuo’s wildlife protection work in Kenya had not gone smoothly at the beginning.

“When I first arrived and told people that I had come to protect wildlife, nobody believed me, as Chinese men were often linked to poaching and consumption of wildlife, not the defending of it,” Zhuo told Xinhua.

Zhuo’s work includes patrolling across the conservancy to prevent poaching and illicit grazing, monitoring, observing of wildlife, as well as rescuing injured animals.

Through years of hard work, he has gained trust and respect from the local tribes and the international community as well.

But wildlife conservation is not a single man’s journey, Zhuo said. “It can only be achieved by a united community.”

Zhuo places priority on mainstream education. He went door to door to talk with the local Maasai pastors, explaining to them the importance of protecting and restoring the ecosystem, and training young volunteers to become guardians of the habitat.

Eco-friendly tourism has proven to be an effective alternative to developing the local economy and can help the Maasai people earn a better life without having to kill the animals, he said.

On the other hand, he speaks of the threats, challenges, progression and solutions on local, regional and international stages, and calls for solidarity and joint efforts of all nations and all people.

He said he looks forward to making his own contribution to deepening cooperation and exchanges between China and Africa under the Belt and Road Initiative.

“I hope to share my experience and lessons learnt from operating a conservancy project in Africa with my colleagues in China, to improve wildlife protection in the country and build our own national parks in the future,” he said.

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