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Yu Xiaode and his monkey friends in Diqing prefecture
Yunnan Tourism and Culture Times 2020-10-20 11:10:46
 
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For the tourists to the national park of Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys in Shangri-La of Diqing prefecture, every moment of Yu Xiaode and his fellow-rangers feeding the lovely animals are not to be missed.



Yu, 63, has been taking care of Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys for years. On the one hand, Yu knows their temperaments and families so well that he can state clearly the character and personality of each of them. On the other hand, the monkeys can understand his whistles and words, and they are free of worries when playing and feeding in the presence of him.


"Our job as rangers have made the mountains lusher and the number of monkeys bigger. They know we love them and are not afraid of us," said Yu. He is proud that he can protect these spirits of the forests.


Yu whistled as he walked into the forest, holding a bag in one hand and some usnea in the other. In no time, the monkeys jumped off the branches and surrounded him. When Yu cast the usnea, they jumped up in the air to catch it. In the viewing area a dozen meters away, the tourists raised their mobile phones and cameras to capture these moments of harmonious coexistence between man and nature.

 

Monkeys understand human speech

 

In the national park of Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys in Shangri-La of Diqing prefecture, the monkeys consider Yu Xiaode and his fellow-rangers as their best friends.

 

Yu, a farmer of the Lisu ethnic group, lives in Xiangguqing village of Tacheng town, Weixi county, Diqing prefecture. He works as a ranger, and protecting the monkeys is part of his job. Today Yu is so familiar to the monkeys that they can understand his whistles and directions, and they are totally free of worries when playing and feeding in his presence

 

As Yu walked into the forest, the branches over his head swayed violently. One after another, the monkeys jumped to the ground to feed on the usnea he cast about. When all the usnea in the bag was gone, Yu began to step out of the feeding area. On the trees or the ground, the monkeys were relishing the delicacies, but their eyes followed Yu all the while. All of sudden, screams were heard, and two monkeys were fighting over the food. Yu stopped and shouted something loudly. At the 'berating', the two monkeys separated and ran into to the forest.

 

Secret of getting along the monkeys

 

The Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys, mainly found in the Baima Snow Mountains, share the same fame with giant pandas, and both animals under the first-class state protection in China. "They have human-like faces. Their big, red lips are very special," Yu said in a manner that would make you feel as if he were talking about his families.

 

He has even given a name to each of the monkeys: This is Big Guy, who lives with two female monkeys, five youngsters and two babies; that is Rice Grains, whose face is covered with speckles...

 

"Look! White Face is male, in his twenties," said Yu, pointing to another monkey. He knows the monkeys' temperaments and families so well, and the monkeys run towards him whenever they recognise his voice.

 

Some tourists were wondering how Yu could get so close to the monkeys. They were especially impressed by his ability to state clearly the character and personality of each monkey. Now that he had finished feeding the monkeys, some tourists came up to ask him the secret of getting along with the monkeys.

 

"We protect nature and treat monkeys like friends, if there is a secret," Yu smiled. "If we carry on hunting and damaging the environment, we and our future generations will ultimately suffer."


Duty and pride



Around the 1980s, hunting and logging damaged the habitats of Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys and posed a great challenge to their survival. "As the forests dwindled, the monkeys couldn't get enough food and their number declined," Yu sighed at the past lesson.

 

To protect the Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys from extinction, China established the Baima Snow Mountains Nature Reserve. While uniting the reserve and local communities in protecting the rare animals, the government has also striven to solve the problems of survival and development facing the locals.

 

It was then that Yu and some other villagers became rangers and guardians of the monkeys. At present, there are dozens of rangers in Xiangguqing alone. "I receive a monthly salary working as a ranger so I can support my family. In my spare time, I also help my family attend our farmland," said Yu. "There are four people in my family, and we earn over 40,000 yuan a year. Our life is getting better and better," he added.

 

At 9 o'clock every morning, Yu comes to the storehouse on the hillside to prepare food for the monkeys: a bag of usnea for breakfast, and some corn, peanuts, sumac nuts, pumpkin seeds and dried apple slices for dinner.

 

"We prepare these foods as supplements for them. They need to find more food by themselves in the forest," Yu told us as he walked to the feeding point carrying two bags of monkey food on shoulders. When the monkeys finish breakfast, Yu will tie the other bag of food to a tree till he comes back at around 4 p.m. to treat the moneys for dinner.

 

"The monkeys never steal food from the bag. They are well-behaved. Besides feeding them, I often come to the forest to add water to their drinking pool. The sick or injured monkeys must be taken good care of..." Yu explained with a smile.

 

Now tourists come to the national park every day. Here, the best part of their tours is watching Yu and his fellow-rangers feeding these spirits of the forests.

 

"The monkeys used to hide from humans. You could tell they were there only by a few screams in the distance," said Yu. Today, however, tourists can watch the monkeys eating and playing within dozens of meters. Sometimes they even run past you and play on the trees overhead. "Due to our efforts, the mountains have become lusher, and the number of monkeys is getting bigger. Humans are no longer a threat to them," Yu said, apparently taking pride in his job as a ranger.


By Zhou Lei


 
 
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