Napahai Lake: A paradise for migrant birds
Located in Shangri-La City, northwest Yunnan’s Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, the Napahai Lake nature reserve makes a typical wetland-surrounded plateau lake in China’s low-latitude areas, and it is on the List of Wetlands of International Importance.
With the temperature on gradual rise in spring, melt water from the snow-capped mountains empties into the Napahai Lake, and the migrant birds flock into the wetland area for food and inhabitation. They include the black-necked crane, the black stork and the bar-headed goose.
To protect the Napahai Lake wetland, Shangri-La City has taken actions in recent years to improve the surrounding water environment. As a result, ecology of the wetland area is restored, and the population of migrant birds in winter has increased year on year.
“The Napahai wetland is a major wintering site for waterfowls, as well as a habitat for migrant birds and a depot during their flights,” said Chen Zhiming, director of the Yunnan Napahai Lake Nature Reserve Management. “Currently, the reserve houses 170 plus bird species with a population of around 30,000. The ruddy shelduck and the bar-headed goose are the dominating ones.
Once, the Napahai ecology was weakened from over graze and water pollution, coupled with over sight-seeing by droves of tourists brought about by local socio-economic development. “Years ago, there were few ernes, a sea eagle that tops the food chain,” recalled Chen.
Later, Shangri-La cleared the pollutants near water bodies in the lake area, joining hands with institutes, universities and environmental organizations in improving ecology. Supported by local residents, the monitoring and protection efforts paid off, and the Napahai ecology was restored.
Having monitored for years the migrant birds in terms of their habitats, migrating depots and routes, management of the Napahai Lake nature reserve concluded the population of migrant birds in the area is on yearly rise. “Last year, we recorded 60 ernes, and an increasing number of bearded vultures and falcons,” said Chen, adding populations of other birds also increased.
Among other things, staff members of the reserve caught sight of a Chinese merganser, an endangered bird that is under first-class state protection in China. Chen Zhiming said the merganser is quite particular about the wintering place, wont to hunt for fish at rapids and shoals. Presence of the bird proves the bettered-off ecology of Napahai wetland.
The restored Napahai area has become a paradise for migrant birds, inviting in hosts of bird lovers for leisure and enlivening the tourist market in Shangri-La.
By Miao Chao and Bao Xu; trans-editing by Wang Shixue