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FEATURE STORY March 7, 2019

Thinking Equal in China: Chu Wenwen’s Path to Wildlife Conservation


On International Women’s Day 2019, we are sharing stories of women doing inspiring work across China. Their diverse contributions highlight the transformative power of women in the country. Chu Wenwen founded True Nature Conservation Association to protect the Mengxin beaver, Przevalski horse and other wildlife.

Tell us about yourself.   

I have been hiking with my father in the wilderness and mountains since I was two years old. I have seen many beautiful wild animals and how they need help. In 2001, I got my first camera and started shooting pictures of wild animals. Two years ago, my father changed jobs and could not continue protecting the beavers outside the reserve. So I founded the True Nature Conservation Association with an aim to preserve China's last architects in the water.

What inspires you to get up in the morning? What drives you?

There are 162 families of Mengxin beaver in China, of which only 38 are in the reserve. The other 124 beaver families are facing increasingly serious environmental threats outside the protected area. Most of the beaver babies born each year cannot survive. When I think of them going hungry and freezing to death in the river, if I can do something to save even just one or two of them, it is very meaningful.  This is what inspires me to get up in the morning.

What set you on this path?       

My father has spent most of his life in wildlife conservation. Influenced by what I saw and heard from childhood, and with my deep love for nature and compassion for the beavers, I have chosen this path. My father handed over to me 162 beaver families, and I want to make sure that when I hand them over to the next beaver guardian, there will be no less than 162 families.

What advice do you have for young women who want to take a similar path?  

If we can keep our heart, we can keep the path under our feet. Between the fancy world and meaningful things, we have to ask ourselves seriously how to choose.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

"It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living." - Sir David Attenborough

What are the biggest issues in China right now and how can they be addressed? 

Society in general is too impetuous. People chase fame and fortune but are not willing to do something meaningful but not profitable.

It takes time and positive influence to change this. Now people's mentality is slowly changing, and everything will get better.

Where do you see China in 25 years?

By then, people will understand the importance of peaceful coexistence with nature and wild animals and reach true harmony; and China will become the most environmentally friendly and hopeful country in the world.

What change would you like to see that could bring greater equality to China? 

I hope to see more women working in this area, in the fields or in the laboratory. Women who are willing to contribute to the planet should be given an opportunity, rather than be kept away.

If you could use one word to describe women in East Asia Pacific what would it be?

Temporarily misplaced.

*The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the World Bank Group and its employees.