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Rare Bird Species' Protection Starts from Communicating Animal Science: Expert
   2016-11-30 10:17:34    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Xu

The cover of a children's book on golden eagle,Shendiao Mizong [Photo provided to CRIENGLISH.com]

With lustrous gold feathers gleaming on the back of its head and neck, the golden eagle is the most widely distributed species of eagle. However, over the past several years, the decline in its population has become an apparent problem.

A Chinese zoologist believes the primary step for better protection of the golden eagle as well as other rare bird species is the popularization of related bird science knowledge within society.

Liu Min has more.


Zhao Xumao is now pursuing his doctor-degree study at the Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. As a passionate animal scientist, he spends most of his time in the wild, where he's made observations on behavioral rules of wild animals, particularly birds.

According to Zhao Xumao, half of the golden eagle species in China are now distributed in Xinjiang, where the human destruction of their food sources have been blamed for the falling numbers.

"As Xinjiang increases its efforts to expand its pastures and grazing ground, it would largely slaughter marmot and Citellus dauricus, which are the main sources of food for golden eagle. This causes a remarkable drop in the diet for this best-known bird of prey."

People's knowledge of the golden eagle usually comes from different means. Some Chinese people, who have read a well-known martial arts novel 'The Legend of Condor Hero', may wonder whether there is such a powerful bird as the condor in reality.

Zhao Xumao recently published a book, Shendiao Mizong, which is literally translated into Mysterious Traces of Condor, and may offer them a key to the question; the author himself explains:

"Does a condor depicted in The Legend of Condor Hero really exist? In fact, a condor originated from the golden eagle, based on which, the men of letters who devoted to literary empowers the bird and makes it almost a mythical creature. I wanted to restore it to where it is in real life, by uncovering their life in its true state."

Zhao Xumao's book was published by The China Children's Press and Publications Group. Li Xiaoping is an editor who helps the author in publishing the book.

Since 1999, the editor has been dedicating to popularizing science among school children via various publications. She found that animal story books are very popular among primary school children, but these stories do not really occur in the animal world.

Li Xiaoping explains:

"The books on animal stories that children normally read today are not written by animal scientists and in these books, animals are given a human character and they depict the stories which actually take place among humans. The author for Golden Eagle stories is a real scientist who works in animal frontiers and a highlight of this book is an inclusion of his first-hand research experience in it."

Through telling his personal experiences on his close contact with the golden eagle, the book contains interesting details including either how Zhao Xunmao has made physical checkups on a newly-born eagle baby, or how golden eagles marry and breed up their babies together.

Zhao Xumao thinks only when people get familiar with an animal or bird species could the concept of rare species protection become tangible.

On this point, Zhao gives details on the fundamental motivations behind the science communication activity.

"The original idea to write this book came from an early visit to an elementary school where I was about to give students a lecture. A teacher in that school asked me what the purpose for my research on golden eagle is. From then on, I've made up my minds to communicating scientific knowledge to the public and make science be part of their life. The target readers for my book is primary school students who need to be cultivated with a mind-set that is open and explorative."

In addition to valuing the scientist's first-hand experiences, Editor Li Xiaoping thinks the book is also thought-provoking and guides children to the approaches concerning how one could find answers to a question.

"An education on animal science should primarily arouse children readers' interest. On one hand, the scientist's description on his exploration and discovery would undoubtedly arouse children's enthusiasm. On the other hand, it would also guide them on the strategies to observe, discover and finally solve the problem. The latter holds a lot more value than merely reading interesting animal stories."

To help children readers better understand its content, the book also contains a rich variety of pictures that illustrate, for instance, the locations where golden eagle built their home on cliffs, as well as the ones that portray other animal species in their natural habitat neighboring golden eagle.

Before this book, Zhao Xumao has written several other books on golden eagle, with an earlier book making him obtain Liang Xi prize for communicating animal science knowledge, the highest honor in the Chinese Forestry Society.

For CRI, I'm Liu Min.

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