Caretakers spend decades protecting threatened species

Updated: May 6, 2023 By Shi Baoyin and Wang Songsong Print
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Huang Zhixue is observing crested ibis through telescope. Photo provided to

For the past 33 years, Huang Zhixue has dedicated himself to protecting the crested ibis in Shaanxi and Henan provinces.

In 1990, Huang became a caretaker at the Yangxian county crested ibis breeding station in Shaanxi province after graduating from senior high school. 17 years later, he was invited to Henan Dongzhai National Nature Reserve, the first conservation area approved by China for the bird, to offer guidance.

The crested ibis hatches from April to June each year. Throughout its early life, from shell breaking to feeding and the 40 days before its first flight, the bird needs to be taken care of meticulously. As the birth date of each crested ibis is different, every crested ibis requires a different type of care.

Since the nesting of crested ibis began in March, Cai Dejing, deputy head of the Dongzhai breeding station, has been looking for new nesting sites with Huang.

This year, they found 42 nesting pairs in the Dongzhai National Nature Reserve, breaking a new record.

Since 2013, the reserve has been trying to release crested ibis after training them for life in the wild. At present, a total of 127 crested ibises have been released.

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