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Bird preservationist on a mission

By Huang Zhiling ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-07-16 09:31:57

Bird preservationist on a mission

Black-necked crane and Chinese monal are among the rare birds that Shen You has photographed. Photos provided to China Daily

Growing up in an impoverished family, Shen You would earlier capture birds to eat, but now he is a fierce protector of the creatures he has come to love. Huang Zhiling reports.

Bird preservationist on a mission

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Bird preservationist on a mission

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When he was a child, Shen You ate birds.

But now that he is 39 and president of the Chengdu Bird Watching Society in Sichuan province, Shen asks people not to eat birds and discourages them from keeping birds or buying them only to set them free.

"The birds that people buy to set free are from the wild," says Shen. "People set birds free to atone for their sins or to accumulate virtue. But to procure one bird to set free, 25 birds will perish in the process of capture, transportation, breeding and sale," he says, while strolling Huanhuaxi Park in the suburbs of Chengdu, a haven for birds.

Shen was born in Yanxi village in Chongzhou, Sichuan. As a child he liked climbing trees to collect birds' eggs.

"My family was poor and short of grain for several months of the year. Birds meant a plate of delicious food," he says.

In 2002, Shen was deputy manager of a telecommunications company in Chengdu when he read a column on bird watching on wwfchina.org, the Chinese-language website for the World Wide Fund For Nature. He immediately became interested in bird watching.

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