Dazhou Island: Two generations of guardians
News source:Hihainan / By Lin Jianing / 10 13,2020 16:22:00 / others

Group photo of the island guardians. Front row, first from the right, Liu Genkun. (He Lifan)

"We owe it to Dazhou Island," Liu Guanglin would tell his son, emphasizing how it's been a key source of food and livelihood for centuries.

Liu was an elder of Xintan Village. Given its geographical proximity, his village was tasked to help protect and preserve Dazhou Island upon its designation as a natural reserve in 1990.

Off southeastern coast of Hainan Province, Dazhou, also known as Grand Island, is famous for its marine ecosystem. It is also a habitat for unique swifts, whose nests are highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine. 
 
Liu appointed four young locals as the guardians of Dazhou. Among them was his son, Mingbo.
 
Initially, the young guardians were not popular and labeled as “traitors” for discouraging people from staying on the island or fishing in its waters. But the four remained unfazed, believing that ecological conservation was crucial to its survival.
 

The guardians patrolling on the island. (He Lifan)


In 1993, Mingbo's son Genkun was born. “We must make Dazhou more beautiful,” the older Liu used to tell his son during their frequent visits to the island.
 
After guarding Dazhou for 22 years, Mingbo passed away in March 2013. Three months later, Genkun returned home to carry on his legacy.
 
In 2015, the island guardians and the Wanning government conducted a restoration campaign. 375 illegally built shacks were dismantled. Local fishermen were compensated and urged to find new ways of making a living.
 
Two generations on, the Liu family's love for Dazhou Island remains intact, growing grander by the day.

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