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Ke Ke Xi Li (Hoh Xil)
2008-06-03 18:33:44     CRIENGLISH.com

Tomorrow I will go to the Ice-Free Spring Protection Station for altitude acclimatization. Hopefully, I can do well in my current physical condition.

The Test of Altitude

May 12th. All of the 11 volunteers arrived at the Ice-Free Spring Protection Station for acclimatization. The station is 4,600 meters above sea level. Everybody remained in good health until the evening, when a woman from Shanghai suffered mountain sickness and reluctantly left.

May 13th. Cheng Xuejun, from Hunan Province, was the second to be sent off the plateau because of altitude sickness. We all felt sorry for him, and many shed tears.

In the daytime, we visited the Curmar River Protection Station and the Wudaoliang Protection Station. If we hadn't seen it with our own eyes, we wouldn't have believed the simplicity of the Curmar River Station. The Wudaoliang Station, however, had been elaborately decorated before we came-clothes hooks were nailed into the wall, and the part of the wall behind the hooks was pasted with a new sheet of white paper. We couldn't help but being moved by their careful consideration.

When we returned to the Ice-Free Spring Station in the evening, the director of the Chonai Lake Protection Station was already there to meet two other volunteers, from Beijing and Shandong Province, who were expected to check in at the Chonai Lake Protection Station that night.

Early morning, May 14th. Cheng Yong, from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, finally left our group because of the terrible effect the high altitude had had on him; after 48 hours, his heart rate continued to race at 120 beats a minute.

Now that we are three members short, we need to rearrange the job assignments. Together with a volunteer from Sichuan Province, I was transferred to the Tuotuo River Protection Station.

Days at the Tuotuo River Protection Station
The routine work of the Tuotuo River Protection Station was to patrol along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway to prevent the illegal taking of sand, earth, and rocks. During my days at the protection station, I joined the patrolmen and successfully stopped illegal acts four times.

We once stopped a construction team that was collecting earth without permission. The leaders of the team later realized the importance of learning and following the protection regulations, and invited the staff of the station as well as the volunteers to a meeting. At the meeting, we introduced the management regulations for nature reserves. On behalf of all the volunteers, I delivered a speech about environmental protection. My speech was warmly received by everyone in attendance. In order to show their support for environmental protection, the team leaders promised to halt the construction until the relevant document of approval arrived. In this case, the other volunteers and I fully played out our roles as advocates of environmental protection.

Here is another story: At a construction site along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, we saw a bulldozer, four excavators, and nearly 30 large loading machines raising heavy dust while collecting sand. When we learned that the construction team had not yet obtained a permit, we immediately held them back. The leader of the team admitted their fault and promised to learn more about environmental protection in order to build the Qinghai-Tibet Railway into a first-grade and environmentally friendly railway.

The Babies
The Tuotuo River Protection Station raises a Tibetan antelope and a Procapra picticaudata, both of which were saved by mountain patrolmen when they were just a few days old. The staff of the protection station cared for them as if they were their own babies and fed them milk mouth to mouth. Now the "babies" are 10 months old. At seven o'clock every morning, they come to the station and eat grains of highland barley that the mountain patrolmen spread over the front grounds of the station. Then, they go up the mountain for grass; and at night, they rest at "home"-the only Tibetan household on the mountain slope behind the protection station.

Recently, a crow with a broken wing became the third "baby" at the station. It was found by a patrolman and has been carefully taken care of. The crow is considered an inauspicious bird in most parts of China; but here, like any other animal, rare or not, it enjoys the tender care of the staff. Lu Feng and I proposed to name it Zhi Yuan (aspiration), and the others agreed.

Patrolling the Mountain
After five days of work at the Tuotuo River Protection Station, Lu Feng and I returned to Golmud and rested for two days. Then, we followed the patrol team that was entering the Hoh Xil hinterland.

From May 25th to June 10th, we carried out a campaign against the poaching of rare animals. It's really a tough job to patrol an uninhabited area. The routes we took were on average 4,800 meters above sea level; and everybody struggled against the cold and anoxia. When night fell, the temperature dropped down to minus 10 degrees centigrade; and the strong wind and heavy snow often deformed our simple tents. The temperature inside the tents was also below zero. While we were in the wilderness, it was common for us to eat one meal of instant noodles a day. In spite of the hard conditions, everyone on the patrol team remained optimistic.

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