Shiti Village in Yingjiang County–Hornbill Birding Paraise

English Name:Shiti Village in Yingjiang County, Dehong
Chinese Name:盈江县盈江县太平镇石梯村

With more than 90 percent of forest coverage, Shiti village is famous for its diversity wild animal and plant species, and it has grown to be a bird-watching destination over the years.

Located in the Taiping town of Yingjiang county, west Yunnan’s Dehong Dai and Jingpo autonomous prefecture, the village is full of bird songs in summer.

And it’s possible for visitors to meet precious birds in the village, such as buceros bicornis, treeswifts, freater flameback and more.

Spring and winter are the busiest periods of time for He Zhengzhong, a young man from Jingpo ethnic group, over a year. As an experienced birding tour guide, his job is to lead groups of birding enthusiasts and nature photographers to watch and take pictures of wild birds. He is now considered one of the best birding tour guides in Shiti, his home village.

Shiti village is located in Yingjiang county, west Yunnan’s Dehong prefecture. According to local statistics, there are over 400 species of birds inhabiting around the village, including some very rare ones such as the hornbill, the forest eagle owl and the grey peacock-pheasant. “Birds have become a major attraction of our village,” said He.

As a village of Jingpo and Lisu peoples sitting on Yunnan’s border with Myanmar, Shiti was once an isolated and impoverished place where hunting-gathering was the primary mode of production. Today, residents of Shiti have left their hand-axes and knives behind, and devoted themselves to the protection of local environment. As a result, more and more species of wild birds have been lured to Shiti and a so called “birding economy” has emerged.

According to Pai Zhonghua, a villager, in order to get good pictures, many photographers would choose to stay in the village over night or even for a few days. This certainly brings villagers new opportunities to generate their incomes. So far, catering, accommodation and tour guide services have all been provided in Shiti. And restaurants and hostels are always crammed with tourists.

Since the flourish of “birding economy”, villagers in Shiti have devoted more time to protecting and taking care of wild birds. According to He Zhengzhong, people in the village are all aware of the significance of conserving animal resources, and any behavior that would harm wild birds and destruct their habitats is intolerant. Villagers also take turns to patrol in the forest now to curb poaching and other illegal treatments to bird species.

“Thanks to these birds coming to the village, our livelihood has been improved substantially,” said He. “In turn, we hope to create an environment where birds and humans can share a same piece of land.”

At present, there are over 40 monitoring points of birds in Shiti. Last year in 2019, the village welcomed as many as 20,000 tourists, and the average income per capita has been raised from less than 2,000 yuan to 8,000 yuan so far.
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