Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wild China - Beyond the Great Wall

China's emperors built the Great Wall to keep their kingdom safe from the hostile barbarians to the north. This is a land of warrior tribes, bizarre wildlife and extreme weather, but also of vast and breathtaking evergreen forests, grassy plains and sweeping desert dunes, rich with history.

The legendary Silk Road drew traders and their camels across the deserts in search of fabulous wealth, and fierce Mongolian horsemen conquered the known world. Today, nomadic tribesmen still race horses and hunt with golden eagles, while tiny hamsters and Asia's last wild horses struggle to survive in the world's most northerly desert.

Watch Documentary - Wild China - Beyond the Great Wall

This episode looks at the lands north of China's Great Wall. Here,nomadic tribes from a variety of ethnic groups still roam,but their traditional ways of life are changing as people move to modern cities.In ancient Manchuria,the last Hezhe fisherman still cast their nets beneath the thick ice of the frozen Black Dragon River.The forests here support wild boar,w/c forage for walnuts in winter,& the last remaining wild Siberian tigers in China.Ewenki reindeer herders came from Siberia hundreds of years ago:now,only 30 remain.Further west lie the rolling Mongolian steppe grasslands,& at Bayan Bulak,the livestock of Mongolian horsemen share the pastures & wetlands breeding demoiselle cranes & whooper swans.Continuing westwards,the land becomes increasingly hot & dry,turning first to arid grasslands roamed by rare goitered gazelles,& then to the Taklamakan Desert,the world's largest shifting sand desert.Here stand ruined towns,a legacy of the Silk Road,& many yardangs, sand-sculpted rock formations. Underground irrigation canals at Turfan oasis enable grapes to be cultivated,& red-tailed gerbils are quick to take advantage. Kazakh nomads spend the summer in the Tian Shan before descending to the Junggar Basin, an arid land bordering the Gobi Desert, to overwinter. Here their livestock shares the meagre pasture with the last wild horses on earth. A Kazahk demonstrates the 6000-year-old tradition of hunting with golden eagles. The closing scenes show the Harbin Ice Festival.

Travels on Horseback in Mantchu Tartary: Being a Summer's Ride beyond the Great Wall of China  China's Use of Military Force: Beyond the Great Wall and the Long March (Cambridge Modern China Series) The Great Wall of China: From History to Myth (Canto original series) Modern Marvels - The Great Wall of China (History Channel)

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