Chu Wenwen tries her best to protect animals. PROVIDED TO TEENS
In their spare time, most young people like to enjoy themselves and play on their smartphones. But Li Ruxue is different. He often patrols a forest and isolates himself from the outside world.
“Though the lifestyle is a little bit tiring, it’s meaningful,” the 27-year-old conservationist told CNR News.
In his college years, Li actively took part in field research with his teachers. After graduation, he joined a skywalker gibbon protection organization, where one of his major responsibilities was picking up gibbon feces.
The skywalker gibbon is a top-level State-protected animal whose population is smaller than that of wild giant pandas. Through analyzing the DNA from their feces, researchers can measure the inbreeding among different groups and protect them better.
So over the past four and a half years, Li has followed gibbons and collected their feces for researchers. Li said the job relies heavily on luck and perseverance. “Our work and rest completely depend on gibbons,”Li told Xinhua.
But he has never regretted his choice or felt alone, as he has found more young people engaged in nature conservation.
Like Li, Chu Wenwen, 27, has also worked to protect animals.
As her father is engaged in wildlife research, Chu has long been surrounded by wild animals, for example beavers, snow leopards and golden eagles. It was easy for her to make a deep connection with these creatures. After graduating from Beijing Forestry University in 2017, she followed in her father’s footsteps.
Listed as a first-class State-protected animal in China, the Mengxin beaver is found only along the Ulungur River in Xinjiang’s Altay prefecture. To protect them, Chu initiated the “beaver canteen” program in 2018, which eventually attracted over 1 million internet users to donate snack money. A huge “canteen” of about 400,000 salix shrubs was built with the snack money from mostly young internet users.
“I am lucky to live in such a great era when young people can fulfill their aspirations while the country strongly supports nature conservation,” said Chu.
According to Fan Pengfei, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, ecological protection as an industry can provide only a few jobs, most of which are in research institutes and nongovernmental organizations.
But he has seen more and more young people take part-time jobs as journalists, photographers and so on to raise awareness of wildlife protection.
“Young people are the future of the world and the future of global biodiversity conservation,” noted Xinhua.