Dr. Gang Chen
Xinjiang Environment and Natural Resources Conservation Research Institute,
Conserving the Wild Bactrian Camels by Developing Sustainable Desert Communities in Xianjiang, China
Category: Plant/Animal Conservation: 2008
Desertification is the changing of once-fertile land to desert as a result of drought, deforestation or inappropriate agricultural practices. The region of Xinjiang is experiencing the greatest threat of desertification in China. Resulting from desertification, the IUCN has listed the wild Bactrian camel as critically endangered. Adding to the threat of their survival is that the camels live in the Lopnur National Nature Reserve, adjacent to where farmers and herdsmen bring their sheep for additional foraging on wildly growing grasses and plants. In addition, local people use wild grasses and trees for cooking fuel because there is a shortage of conventional energy sources such as coal, gas and electricity.
Dr. Chen will use a series of oral and video presentations to a targeted group of 47 families along the border of the nature reserve to teach the ecological and economic values of his proposed planting and conservation plan. He plans to develop a sheep dung methane pit to provide fuel for cooking, which will enable the natural trees and grasses to grow and support the wild Bactrian Camels. The methane pit will generate enough fuel to meet the cooking, hot water, and lighting needs for a family of five while saving each family about 1.5 tons of firewood consumption per year.
|In addition, Dr. Chen plans to plant branchy tamarisks (a kind of desert tree) to prevent further desertification and desert-living citanches (desert ginseng, with a high market value) to increase income for rural families. Without the stresses of sheep grazing and firewood cutting around the camel habitat, the ecological environment for the camels will gradually improve. The citanches and new fuel resources will also improve the quality of life for the people.|| |