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An overall view of the "birds-protection shield" on the railway from Jiangmen to Zhanjiang. [Photo/VCG]

GUANGZHOU -- A new high-speed railway began operation Sunday in Guangdong Province, without impacting the lives of tens of thousands of birds near the route.

The 357-km railway, which connects Guangdong"s Jiangmen and Zhanjiang, is only 800 meters away from a habitat of over 30,000 herons in Xinhui District, Jiangmen, at the closet point.

To avoid bothering the birds, a vaulted shield was set up to cover a 2,036-meter section near the habitat, which consists of several islets covered by banyan trees.

Using sound absorption and insulation materials, the shield cost 187 million yuan ($28.3 million), according to Li Jianqiang, an engineer in charge of construction with the China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group.

Tests showed that when a train passed at a speed of 200 km per hour, the sound monitored at the core area of the birds" habitat increased by 0.2 decibels, Li said. "It means that people and birds barely heard the noise."

The enclosed shield is the first of its kind and the developer is patenting the technology, according to China Railway Guangzhou Group Co. Ltd., the operator of the railway.

Birds fly at the wetland habitat at Jiangmen, Guangdong province. [Photo/VCG]