A flock of wild mandarin ducks are the biggest draw in the West Lake scenic area in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang province, with tourists flocking from around the country to see them.
However, some of the tourists have been feeding the ducks, even pulling them by the neck to force-feed them. On Monday, a video claiming that some of the ducks had died from over-feeding went viral on social networking sites.
Although there are prominent signboards warning people against feeding them, tourists just cannot hold back. Some even believe the ducks are underfed and they are doing them a favor, little realizing that their action can be detrimental to the birds' health. Human food does not always go down well with ducks, particularly potato chips, as the oily snack can play havoc with the health of mandarin ducks.
However, tourists can frequently be seen feeding the ducks food that the birds cannot digest.
Besides, feeding the ducks could stop them from competing in the wild to find their food. If they become dependent on food provided by humans, they will lose their survival skills.
Also, by giving food to them, the tourists are polluting the environment. Especially, food thrown into the water could harm the ecosystem there.
However, the tourists know little about the harm they cause to the environment and there is a need to create awareness about it. Meanwhile, the number of mandarin ducks at West Lake has dropped from 336 last year to 260 this year. Maybe the declining numbers will wake the tourists up to this reality.