Asia Pacific
Feature: Australians work hard to protect annual red crab migration in northwestern Christmas island
Last Updated: 2014-01-05 09:08 | Xinhua
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As one of the most fascinating visions in the planet, tens of millions of red crabs recently finished their annual journey from the jungle of Australia's Christmas island to the shore for spawning, "forcing" residents of the island to close roads and set signs to protect the event.

Nobody has an exact idea that how many those red creatures live in the burrows of the island which locates at the Indian Ocean and is 1,600 km away from mainland Australia, but according to the locals, the estimation is sixty million.

In the last three months of 2013, millions of them, some say around forty million, flushed into every corner of the 135- square kilometer space and almost all roads were seen like covered with red carpets, offering visitors an unusual "National Geographic" style experience, which can only be witnessed at the Australian territories of Christmas island and Cocos island.

According to Karenn Singer from Christmas island's tourism association, the migration usually last 18 days for each wave ( usually two to three waves annually) and the red crabs spawn at the beach in early mornings.

Each female crab carries around 100,000 eggs and most of the eggs are a perfect feast for whale sharks and other fishes which know when and where to come, Singer told Xinhua.

After three to four weeks, the rest lucky eggs would become small baby crabs and they will return to the jungle and repeat their parents' journey after years, she said.

For the 1,500 locals, they get along with the crabs very well, which has already become part of their life. In order to protect the migration and spawning event from the passing-by vehicles, they even created specially designed underground tunnels as well as bridges for the crabs to march.

More over, rangers of the national park also give the red crabs priority for passing by temporarily shut down some major roads.

Still thousands of them don't "obey orders" and march through unblocked roads. The locals then have to stop in front of the crabs and wait patiently for them to pass or drive them out to the bushes.

Almost no one was complaining about that.

However, the increase of visitors' activity has led to the invasion of some outside species. The "yellow crazy ant" which used to live in the timbers, accidentally brought by humans 70 years ago, now seriously endangers the existence of the red crabs.

According to estimation, since 1995 the crazy ants have killed at least fifteen million red crabs, which is about 25 percent of the whole population.

Increasing traffic by visitors also put wild creatures' life in danger, while at least 2,000 robber crabs which can live up to 100 years have been killed in recent years.

"Some visitor just don't care about the crabs," said one of the national park staff "Pinky", when chatting with Xinhua correspondents.

"We have done a test before by putting a coconut on the road, after several days it was still there, then how comes the drivers couldn't see the robber crabs which are about the same size of the coconut and just ran over them?" Pinky complained.

Residents on the island, especially the national park staff are currently researching and working on how to prevent the red crabs from been seriously affected by human activities.

"The crabs are one of the original residents here and they should not be affected by us," said one resident, adding "everyone even the visitor has the responsibility to protect the unique wild life in the island."

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