Following in the ranger's footsteps

By Wu Yong ( China Daily ) Updated: 2012-12-18 11:04:36

After a 10-hour train ride from Liaoning province's capital Shenyang to Jilin's Yanji, we transfer to a bus and then switch to a jeep when the snow smothering the road becomes too deep.

I forgo the relative comfort of my hotel room to stay with Liang and observe his life at close quarters. We spend the evening talking about his story from the first boar he killed to the last elk he got in the '70s.

My dreams that night are inhabited by various animals, including deer and tigers.

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The dreams were pleasant. The next day was torturous.

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We set out at 8 am and return around 2:30 pm because it gets dark at 3 pm in the mountains. The wild becomes a dangerous place after dusk, when snow leopards and Siberian tigers hunt.

I struggle in the -20C weather to slog through 50cm deep snow. Liang leads the way, and I save some strength by walking in his footsteps.

I can hardly move my legs when I return to the jeep. I manage to climb into the vehicle and use my hands to lift my legs on the seat.

I must admit, I was proud to learn that the TV reporters following another team gave up after only an hour of trudging along the snowy treks.

And I gained a much deeper understanding of wildlife conservation and residents' lives by literally following in a local ranger's footsteps.

Before I leave, the town's forestry bureau's leader Liu Yuhai says he's pleased the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China reiterated calls for the construction of an eco-friendly society. This makes him feel more confident the country will better balance economic progress and environmental protection.

I promise him I'll return in the summer, when the snow is gone but rainfall and ticks make the mountains more dangerous.

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