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Saving endangered tree frog

By XU WANYANG and MENG WENJIE | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-05 06:49
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Poster of Wang Ningjing's short film, Immaculate. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Wang Ningjing's film documents her journey to find and protect the endangered Chinese immaculate tree frog, highlighting the fragile interdependence between humans and nature.

On May 22, this year's International Day for Biological Diversity was celebrated under the theme "Be part of the Plan", urging action to halt and reverse the decline in biodiversity in support of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, also known as The Biodiversity Plan.

Wang Ningjing, a 29-year-old Chinese wildlife filmmaker, is actively involved in this plan. Her 15-minute short film, Immaculate, was showcased at the 47th International Wildlife Film Festival in Montana, United States, in April.

The documentary follows Wang's journey to find the Chinese immaculate tree frog, or Dryophytes immaculatus, a species native to China that is now on the brink of extinction. It was listed on the 2004 Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

Wang's passion for wildlife emerged at a young age. As a child, she was captivated by nature documentaries, often visiting wildlife parks and spending hours observing tadpoles by ponds.

This love for nature led Wang to study ecology at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, and later environmental health sciences at Yale University in the United States.

During her field studies and travels, she discovered the power of the camera in capturing the intricate relationships between species and their habitats, as well as the fleeting animal behaviors often overlooked by the human eye.

"I see myself as a chronicler of the relationship between humans and nature," Wang said. "Even if I cannot change the current status of these species, at least I have documented the evidence of their existence."

Wang shares her wildlife photography and related knowledge on social media. As her following grew, she realized the potential of nature photography to attract public attention and promote conservation efforts.

"I believe China boasts incredibly rich biodiversity and is home to dedicated conservationists," she said. "Through my films, I hope to spotlight these stories."

With this mission, Wang became the first Chinese mainland student to enroll in the wildlife filmmaking program at the University of the West of England, UK, in 2022. This program, conducted in collaboration with the BBC Natural History Unit, offers a professional approach to natural documentary filmmaking.

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