Incredible Xinjiang | The “Swan Whisperer” in NW China protecting and caring for wild swan nearly 30 years

February 10 17:31 2021

A fishman living near Yili river in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region,has spent almost half of his lifetime to protect wild swans.

About 30 years ago, Han Xinlin first saw wild swans near his ponds. Since than, increasing swans arrive here every winter. And his fishpond turns into swan lake and becomes a check-in spot to get close to see wild swans. 

Han Xinlin carries a pail of feed walking by the pond. (Xinhuanet, Li Mengting)

In the early morning, Han carries a pail of feed to treat his guests. When he begins to scatter food, swans will swim toward him and happily cry for food. 

Photographers takes pictures of white swans. (Xinhuanet, Li Mengting)

At this time, the hidden tourists will have the chance to shot these beauties by cameras.

“Every year, you can see new faces. Baby swans will come here with their parents.” Han said. His eyes were tender as he looked at the cygnets with their gray feathers still on their backs.

Willows planted by Han Xinlin. (Xinhuanet, Li Mengting) 

“Look over there!” Han pointed. He nearly knew every swan. Not far away, several cygnets just arrived there with their parents, and looked alert to the surroundings.

“Look! They are going to take off!” He reminded people near him with cameras. Soon, swans flapped swings and took off in a column.

Han Xinlin is feeding swans. (Xinhuanet, Li Mengting)

In 1993 winter, Han saw five swans stay in his fish pond, cold and hungry. This warm-hearted man tried to feed these swans. Unexpectedly, five swans stayed in his pond for the whole winter. And in the next winter, they came again and brought several swan friends together. From then on, increasing swans came here, up to a maximum of 320.

Swans swim in the pond. (Xinhuanet, Li Mengting)

Swans swim in the pond. (Xinhuanet, Li Mengting)

Compared with other places, Han’s pond is a comfortable place to spend winter. It is connected with a spring and the Yili River. With a steady stream of running water, no mater how cold the weather is, the pond will not be frozen.

For years, most of the money he earned from raising fish went to buy food for the swans. He even planted willows around the pond, to provide a shelter from wind for swans.

Last year, Local forestry department decided to be in charge with the the living expenses of the swans. And now Han has a new role as a forest ranger, tasked with watching the swans while working with bird experts to study them.

Han Xinlin is looking through the Swan Diary over the years. (Xinhuanet, Li Mengting)

Besides feeding, watching and helping swans, Han will also install location trackers to swans, to understand where the swans come and go.

But he still keeps the habit to have a daily journal of swans…

January 15, 2018, 286 swans, of which 193 old friends. ”

January 15, 2020, 239 swans.”

January 1, 2021, the tracker says G15, G53, G00 has come back and gone. Maybe they go to a better place. C04 stays and so do I, a little sad…”

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