The summer vacation is drawing to a close. Some people arranged unforgettable trips during their vacations, some chose to bury themselves in books, while others enriched themselves with rewarding internships. Luyuan Ge, a Year 4 IC student, had a unique experience in old-growth forests, observing and tracing over 100 species of wildlife.
Famous for its biodiversity, Shennongjia has long been a dream destination for Luyuan. When asked whether his interest lies in wildlife observation or conservation, Luyuan said: “If observation of wildlife can’t be transformed into conservation, then it will be purely disturbance.” As soon as he saw the ad posted by the Taiyangping Nature Reserve at Shennongjia, Luyuan signed up and was selected to be one of 20 interns.
At the reserve, Luyuan’s duties consisted of patrolling, controlling local poaching and deforestation as well as community work such as grazing and listing potential threats. During this time, he had many encounters with rare wildlife, such as a Golden Eagle chick and a White-headed Burmese Viper.“When I encountered the viper during a night walk, it was crossing the road – it looked wonderful with its pure black body and orange stripes on it.”
According to Luyuan, snakes are timid creatures and only bite when feeling threatened. He recounted a situation where a snake, which had taken up an S-shaped attack position, realised that he only wanted to take pictures. It relaxed right away and continued to slink along the road.
Afterwards, Luyuan continued to do an internship at the Jiulongfeng Nature Reserve in his hometown, Anhui Province, contributing to collecting data and species information.
Although the field trips were tiring, neither playing basketball nor video games were comparably appealing to Luyuan. “Doing this is extremely relaxing and enjoyable for me.” He took his long-time hobby of wildlife observation into his college life at UNNC, watching and recording birds, amphibians and later other animals at UNNC. During his exchange at the UNUK campus, Luyuan spotted a Red Fox and even a Smooth Newt, which was thought to have disappeared from the area.
Yet Luyuan felt that his experience in Shennongjia gave him a lot of food for thought. "It is my first time to experience wildlife conservation and to have systematic observation; for the first time I started to consider how reserves can be integrated with communities and how communities can benefit from sustainable resources while supporting ecological conservation," said Luyuan.
Luyuan plans to dedicate himself to bird, amphibian and reptile habitat conservation or invasive species prevention after graduation. Although his undergraduate degree in IC would seem to be irrelevant to wildlife habitat protection, he gave his own interpretation -- "I think what I learned at UNNC were principles, or more precisely, how to understand and sympathise in general. Natural observation may be only one of my perspectives to learning about the world."