Since this September, the first bird survey in the Kashgar Reclaimed Water Utilization and Ecological Afforestation Base, led by the Kashgar City Forestry Bureau and undertaken by organizations including the Shenzhen Mangrove Wetland Conservation Foundation (MCF), Shenzhen Evening News, and Shenzhen University’s College of Marine and Life Sciences, has achieved significant new findings. The survey recorded 95 bird species, including three first-class state-protected species and 17 second-class state-protected species. The survey revealed the largest autumn population in China of an endangered species known as the white-headed duck. Additionally, a record-breaking 105 black storks were observed, marking the largest population of black storks discovered in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in over a decade.
The base covers an area of 54,000 mu (approximately 36 square kilometers). It was initiated in 2018 with 50 million yuan in aid, which were provided by cities and provinces including Shenzhen, Shanghai and Guangdong. The base utilizes treated urban wastewater for ecological afforestation on previously barren and saline-alkali land. Currently, it has transformed 38,000 mu (over 2530 hectares）of land into forests and created 10,000 mu (some 667 hectares) of wetlands. This former wasteland has become one of the most representative areas for biodiversity in Kashgar City, hosting a diverse range of bird species and forming a beautiful wetland landscape.
Sun Lili, the Co-founder and Vice President of the MCF says the ecological afforestation base is located on the western edge of the Taklimakan Desert, which is a crucial node on the global migratory routes for Central Asia, and on the Asian–East African Flyway. It serves as an important resting place and energy replenishment station for migratory birds and is a significant wintering ground for migratory birds.
The current survey results show that the birds wintering in the base mainly include shorebirds, gulls, and herons, as well as other birds including raptors and songbirds. The number of winter migratory and migratory stopover birds exceeds 20,000, ranking at the forefront in terms of species and quantity in the Kashgar region. The survey will continue until 2024, covering the 2023 winter bird survey and the 2024 spring migratory bird survey. A report titled “Bird Baseline Survey of Kashgar City Reclaimed Water Utilization and Ecological Afforestation Base” will then be compiled.
The survey also highlighted the region’s unique characteristics by discovering 13 species of raptors among the 20 state-protected animals, proving Xinjiang to be one of the advantageous regions for studying the migration patterns of raptors in China.
(Story provided by Li Jingchuan and Yang Feng.)