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Guardian of the Lake


  “I am exhausted,” sighs Xu Yaping, president of Hunan Province’s Yueyang Finless Porpoise Protection Association, grimacing as he takes a long drag from a cigarette. Xu has remained on the front lines of a long battle to protect the ecological environment of Dongting Lake, a place like home for him.

  Located in northeastern Hunan Province, Dongting Lake is the second-largest freshwater lake in China. An important player in regulating the flow of the Yangtze River in its middle reaches, Dongting Lake is also a famous tourist scenic spot. However, due to too much fishing, pollution, and other excessive exploitation of the lake in recent years, Dongting Lake, once a hub for migratory birds, has been shrinking.

  Even worse, the finless porpoise, a freshwater mammal as rare as the giant panda, which lives in Dongting Lake, teeters on the brink of extinction due to the lake’s terrible condition.

  To save the finless porpoise and prevent Dongting Lake’s ecological environment from further deteriorating, Xu Yaping launched a massive conservation effort with his team from the Yueyang Finless Porpoise Protection Association. Along with the finless porpoise, they have also taken measures to help protect the oriental white stork, black stork, little swan and elk.

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