Wed, 19 Jan 2022

To bear with bears, border police put up fences

11 Jan 2022, 12:05 GMT+10

© Provided by Xinhua

by Xinhua writers Liu Xinyong, Liu Zhoupeng, Tian Jinwen

LHASA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- In the past few months, black bears in search of food have frequented a sparsely populated border town in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region as days get colder.

"It's almost like they are also staff members here," said Quan Guangchuan, a police officer at the Zham port of the Nyalam frontier inspection station in the city of Xigaze.

After the devastating Nepal earthquake in 2015, residents of Zham were relocated some 500 km away. Now, the area has become a paradise for wildlife, including bears, wild boars and even leopards, partly due to reduced human activity with only some border police and temporary workers.

While wild animals can pose a danger to police officers and others, iron wire fences have been put up and obstacles placed in the potential way of bears.

However, the police's gesture of being "good neighbors" of wild animals is not always well received. Hungry black bears, for instance, still invade the premises from time to time despite the strong fences.

On Nov. 18, 2021, security cameras captured footage of a black bear in a dorm building of the border police. It was seen strolling wantonly along the hallway, into a restroom, and up the stairs toward the top floor.

"Can you imagine a big bear standing just outside your room?" said officer Liu Zhe. "I didn't sleep well all night for fear of the bear attacking me."

In a police officers' WeChat group, "bear alarms" are occasionally sounded, especially at night when the cops work overtime.

"It is taller than an adult." "It stared at me just now, and I bolted away. Everyone should be careful at night." Those are real messages in their group posted in August.

The police officers have also put up signs to remind the nearby workers of being on high alert for black bears.

"The officers also gave us an emergency phone number that we can call, making us confident," said a worker surnamed Wang.

While no one was hurt in recent years thanks to the effective warning system, several puppies at the port were unfortunately stolen by black bears, said officer Zhang Gaoyong. "The roof of the doghouse also collapsed!"

Still, the police are upholding good neighborliness to the wildlife around.

"We should not only guard against possible attacks by wild animals, but also protect them," said officer Sonam Tsering. Black bears are now under national-level protection in China.

In 2006, Tibet started compensating farmers and herders for losses caused by wild animals, and has paid 960 million yuan (about 151 million U.S. dollars) to residents for such losses incurred by late September, 2021, said the regional forestry department.

Benefiting from the measure, farmers and herders are more willing to be engaged in ecological protection and the number of wild animals has been growing, the department said.

"No matter how hard and dangerous it is, our responsibility is to be the guardians here," said Li Zhenhua, an official at the Nyalam frontier inspection station.

Monday is the second Chinese People's Police Day, which is observed to recognize the police's heroic endeavors.

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