Death flight for birds on night of the hunter
Updated: 2012-11-01 14:41
By Yang Wanli (China Daily)
Migration-route ambush provides rich pickings, reports Yang Wanli in Hunan province.
On an early October morning in the Luoxiao Mountains of Central China's Hunan province, the world was barely awake as Li Feng made his way through the clinging mists that blanketed the slopes and headed for the summit, a camera hidden in his pocket.
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The surrounding area is pitted with hundreds of small caves, their entrances camouflaged by pine branches. The caves offer shelter to local hunters and Li, a photographer at a local newspaper and a volunteer for an NGO, the Hunan Bird Protection Camp, is taking a risk as he attempts to record their illegal activity. The hunters have a reputation for taking matters into their own hands when dealing with intruders.
Having reached the hilltop and taken photos of the scenery and the few birds in sight, Li hid his camera and, looking like any other fell walker taking a stroll, waited for sundown.
Fast-forward several hours: Shortly after nightfall, dozens of bright white spotlights were turned on simultaneously.
The lights attract the birds and soon the air is filled with the percussion of thousands of beating wings. The birds - including red-crowned cranes, Tibetan cranes, spot-billed ducks, greenwing and great egrets - from North China and even Siberia, are undertaking their twice-yearly migration to the warmer climes.
As they flew into range the guns fired. Continuously. The lights confuse the birds and encourage them to fly at lower altitudes, making them easy targets for the hunters. Those unscathed by the gunfire often end up entangled in the nets the hunters set up across the mountaintops. Escape is impossible.