Yu Jiahua
Yu Jiahua leading his patrol team Author: Kyle Obermann

Yu Jiahua


Guardian of Jiuding

meet yu

Yu Jiahua, born in China’s Sichuan Province on the slopes of the 4,969m Jiuding Mountain, is a member of the Qiang ethnic minority. As a teenager at the onset of China’s Cultural Revolution, he left school due to poverty and hunted with his father to support his family. Later, he raised yaks. Grieved by the loss of mountain wildlife, he took the initiative to stop poaching. Yu Jiahua organized Sichuan’s first conservation group, which now involves 13 villages recruiting 500 local rangers to protect 200km² of wilderness around Mt. Jiuding.

Guardian of Jiuding
Nominated by: Kyle Obermann MI'20
Class of 2021 Location China
Author: Kyle Obermann

I was born in the 1950s. In those times life was very hard. If one wanted to live a bit better, they needed a special skill. When I was 14, I learned how to hunt from my elders, which gave my family and me hope for living.

In the 1960s and 1970s, there was plenty of wildlife around Mt. Jiuding where our ancestors grew up. But later in the 1970s, when state land was contracted to households, the number of poachers exploded from a very few to over one thousand. This was because everyone wanted to improve their lives. By the 1990s, many animal species around the mountain had significantly decreased. Poachers would bring days of provisions up in the mountains but return empty-handed. After a period of this hardship and letdown, these poachers became more harsh. They organized into groups of seven people. Two would set fire to the base of the mountain while five others with guns would wait at the top to hunt the fleeing animals. In the span of a few years, thousands of acres of Mt. Jiuding had been burned, and many species were locally extinct. When my brother and I realized this, we were moved to do something. We believed we had to act so that future generations could still have a life on Mt. Jiuding. This is how my brother and I started our work to persuade and stop poachers.

I was drawn to this work after seeing so many animals being shot and corpses burned. In the bottom of my heart, this caused a deep, painful sadness. This was brutality beyond any sort of morality. I had to stop these actions because this was the home of my ancestors.

never stop exploring


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