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Sichuan established a protection station for more than 200 wolves for the first time to protect the wolves. What about the sheep?
Photo by Shen You
Sichuan Online reporter Kou Minfang
In early June, Liu Hao, a researcher from Mianyang Normal University, came to Ruoergai to investigate and study the activities of wolves. On the vast grassland, he found a wolf that had just died. Its lower abdomen was torn, a small intestine was exposed, and the remaining blood stains were faintly visible.
According to his judgment, the wolf may have died in a fight between the same species, and it is more likely that it was attacked by a human-raised shepherd dog or Tibetan mastiff.
“Wolves are much more fragile than we thought.” Liu Hao said. In fairy tales, both “Grandma Wolf” and “Big Bad Wolf” are cannibals, but in fact, wolves have been “squeezed” by humans for a long time. , The number of habitats and populations plummeted.
On July 29, the Zoige Wolf Ecological Protection Monitoring Station (hereinafter referred to as “protection station”) was listed. This is also the first protection station built for wolves in Sichuan. What is the point of protecting wolves? Can humans and wolves live in harmony?
Is an important “controller” in the ecosystem
my country used to be one of the countries with the largest population of wolves. Take Sichuan as an example. Before the 1950s, there were traces of wolves in the mountains and surrounding basins in western Sichuan, and their populations were relatively large. Later, with economic development, the scale and scope of human livestock and poultry breeding expanded. Wolves often entered farms to hunt livestock and were regarded as evil beasts. They became the “big bad wolf” in fairy tales and were hunted and killed on a large scale. The land is also shrinking.
“The area where giant pandas live, such as the Pingwu area, used to have wolves, but now they are gone.” Liu Hao said that by the 1980s, wolves had been “driven” to western Sichuan. The population size also plummeted.
Wolves are at the top of the food chain. In nature, their food is mainly ungulates, such as wild boars, deer, etc. They will kill them all and eventually destroy the ecological balance. In order to protect ungulates, Yellowstone National Park in the United States once hunted and killed wolves. White-hipped deer and other ungulates lost their natural enemies. The population exploded, eating bark and saplings, and causing ecological damage. Later, the managers of Yellowstone Park introduced and rebuilt wolves in the park again, so that the ungulates represented by the white-hipped deer in the park were effectively controlled, the forests and grasslands were restored, and the ecosystem of the entire region was rebalanced.
In Ruoergai, herders’ views on wolves have also changed. The wolf, previously considered a “evil beast”, also played a role in protecting the grassland to a certain extent. Prairie pika, one of the food for wolves, is a big killer of Zoige grassland ecology. Plateau pikas have amazing reproductive power. When forage grass turns green, it is also the season for them to multiply. They burrow everywhere in the grassland, making sandy soil exposed, soil erosion intensified, and grassland degradation. “Wolves eat pikas, which can reduce rodent infestation to a certain extent.” said Yang Heng, head of the Wildlife Protection Unit of Zoige County Forestry and Grass Bureau.
It can be said that the wolf is a very important switch in the ecosystem, which is equivalent to a top-down “controller”.
What will the protection station do?
First carry out a monitoring survey to find out the family background
Zoige is one of the relatively concentrated areas of wolves in our province, with an existing population of about 200. The protection station is located in Sichuan Ruoergai Wetland National Nature Reserve (hereinafter referred to as “protection area”).
In the routine patrols carried out in the reserve in recent years, wolves have been spotted from time to time, and related monitoring has been carried out. Once, a herder told the ranger that the wolves would pass through his pasture every day, leaving early and returning late, as if they were going to work. Another time, the ranger saw seven wolves standing on the top of the mountain from a distance… these messages All have been recorded, providing precious basic information for the protection station.
However, there are still shortcomings in the protection of wolves. Zoige is known as the “hometown of black-necked cranes”. Since the establishment of the reserve in 1998, the main research and monitoring have focused on birds. The Zoige Wolf Ecological Protection Monitoring Station is the first beast station in the reserve. “For a long time, we have not carried out systematic and complete monitoring of beasts, including wolves, and the population information is relatively blank, and in-depth research is insufficient.” said Shi Lei, deputy director of the Sichuan Ruoergai Wetland National Nature Reserve Administration.
After the establishment of the protection station, the monitoring system will be carried out first, and basic data of wolves will be built to understand the distribution and population numbers of wolves in Ruoergai, and find out the family background. In the future, it is also expected to learn from the research methods of black-necked cranes and to further understand the life habits of wolves by installing GPS trackers and other methods.
Difficulties are also in front of the protection station. The biggest constraint is the shortcomings of talents. “There are no talents who specialize in animal research in the reserve. The previous experience is mainly on birds and cannot be fully transplanted to beasts.” Shi Lei threw an olive branch to the vast number of scientific research institutions and researchers, hoping to attract talents and wisdom to establish scientific research. The cooperative relationship strengthens the ecological protection and scientific research monitoring of wolves.
How do people and wolves live in harmony?
Restore and protect the ecology, let wolves return to nature for food
The purpose of establishing a protection station is to protect wolves. If the wolf population is expanded, will it once again pose a threat to the herdsmen’s livestock and cause conflicts between man and wolf?
Liu Hao has repeatedly tested and studied in Ruoergai, Hongyuan and other places, and found that although the contradiction between man and wolf is not as prominent as in the early years, it has always existed.
Whether it’s pasture grazing or tourism development, human activities have more or less disrupted the ecological balance, resulting in the reduction of food for wolves in nature. In order to survive, they will steal the cattle and sheep of herders; although herders will not directly hunt and kill wolves as in the past, When livestock are eaten stolen, I still hope that relevant government protection agencies will control the range and number of wolves.
“It is said that people are afraid of wolves. In fact, wolves are more afraid of people.” In other words, if there is enough food in nature, wolves are much less likely to risk eating livestock. Liu Hao suggested that after the establishment of the protection station, the number of livestock should be effectively controlled, the stocking amount of livestock should be controlled, and space should be made for other ungulate wild animals to ensure adequate food for wolves. In addition, relevant policies should be improved. If wolves eat sheep, can they consider giving farmers some compensation to alleviate the conflict between man and wolf?
“The contradiction between humans and wolves is the surface, and behind it is the contradiction between human activities and ecological protection.” Liu Hao believes that the construction of a protection station means not only an increase in work content, but also an upgrade of the protection concept-through research and protection of wolves, Promote the protection of the entire regional ecosystem and realize the harmonious development of man and nature.
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