>> Liu Dang used to run a restaurant. Now she spends her days trying to keep swans, geese, and other migrating birds off dinner tables in China.>> Wild birds can fly around the world, but when they come to China, they often reach their end.>> China is a major corridor for birds migrating across Asia, but seasonal flocks are falling prey to poachers.
Up to 10 million birds every year netted by illegal trappers according to some estimates. Enter China's green vigilantes, they're patrolling the country side, trying to stop the poachers before it's too late. Reuters James Pomfret visited the Poyang Lake wetlands, one of China's most vital and threatened bird habitats.
>> I just thought that I would come here to investigate and find out firsthand the true extent of the problem. And to be honest what we found has been shocking. It seems to be a lot worse than people have expected. And during the peak season when you get the birds here in massive numbers, you do get gangs of villagers.
And from some accounts, they're going out and poaching large birds like swans and geese, and even some highly endangered crane species.>> After careful search, Liu found the evidence she's been looking for, packets of pesticides used to drug the birds. Next to one packet, the tracks of wild migrating birds.
But the poachers are already gone. At a nearby village, the volunteers have more success and waste no time cutting down illegal nets. Volunteers say that the job comes with a certain amount of risk. Some have been chased by poachers, even roughed up. Meanwhile, critics say the government isn't doing its part.
>> The authorities, they just take the poachers at their word often and they don't do anything about it and follow-up. And actually there is a huge suspicion that they might actually be taking money from the poachers as well that corruption is an issue.>> Poachers sell the birds onto markets and restaurants.
Some are priced as delicacies like the critically endangered yellow-breasted bunting. This species used to flock in millions from Japan to Scandinavia, but experts warn that if China doesn't get serious about poaching, the bunting may soon disappear forever.