Ecological protection creates 'egret paradise' in E China village
The small village of Sanlin, in Huzhou City, east China's Zhejiang Province has become a new magnet for tourists, bird lovers and environmentalists after establishing an "egret paradise" where man and nature coexist in harmony.
A few years ago, Sanlin Village started to improve its environment and develop its aquaculture industry. Since then, more egrets have arrived and made their homes here, attracted by the abundance of fish and shrimp and lack of predators.
Two little egrets in "synchronized wading." /VCG Photo

Two little egrets in "synchronized wading." /VCG Photo

However, the egrets were not welcomed by villagers at first. People were worried that the egrets would consume their cultured seafood, and feared they would pose a health risk.
"Many complained that there were bird droppings everywhere, on the trees and the roads, as more and more egrets came," said a villager named Dai Jinxiang.
"We really hated the egrets at that time. We even bought bird pliers and nets to catch them," seafood farmer Wang Lihua confessed.
A little egret hunts in the water. /VCG Photo

A little egret hunts in the water. /VCG Photo

Realizing the attitudes of locals towards the birds, authorities in Sanlin Village rolled out new and practical measures as part of their development plan three years ago.
The local government invited bird experts to educate the villagers about what egrets eat and reassured them that their seafood output was not part of the bird's diet.
Local villagers learned more about these migratory birds and now help feed them.
With more understanding, people's perceptions towards egrets changed, and annoyance eventually transformed into appreciation.
Volunteer bird-protection teams, which were spontaneously created by villagers, now take on the everyday duty of protecting egrets and the environment.
A little egret lands in water. /VCG Photo

A little egret lands in water. /VCG Photo

Not only did the number of egrets increase dramatically to over 10,000, but the number of tourists also surged in recent years with the increasing egret population to watch the rare birds thanks to strong ecological protection efforts.
"I didn't expect such beautiful landscapes in this small village, especially since there are so many egrets. I'll bring my friends to come here again next time," said Yang Jiling who was visiting from central China's Hubei Province.
(Cover image via VCG)
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