Tides of Change Wild China


Tides of Change

Documentary series. A look at how tea-growing cultures, bird-filled wetlands and futuristic cities jostle along China's eastern seaboard in a battle for resources.


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Transcript


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From the eastern end of the Great Wall,

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China's coast spans 14,500 kilometres

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and more than 5,000 years of history.

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This is the area which shows the greatest contrast

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between China's past and its future.

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Today, China's eastern seaboard is home to 700 million people,

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packed into some of the most dazzling hi-tech cities on earth.

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Yet, these crowded shores remain hugely important for a wealth of wildlife.

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Now, as ancient traditions mingle with new aspirations,

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is there any room at all for wildlife on China's crowded shores?

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In northern China's Zhalong Nature Reserve,

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a pair of red-crowned cranes have staked out their nesting territory

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in the stubble of a commercially managed reed bed.

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For centuries, cranes have been revered in China as symbols of longevity.

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Their statues were placed next to the Emperor's throne.

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The cranes have cause to celebrate.

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This chick is a sign of hope in difficult times.

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Red-crowned cranes are one of the world's most endangered species.

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Over the last century, China has lost nearly half of its coastal wetlands

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and most of what remains is managed for the benefit of people, not wildlife.

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A few months from now, this chick and its parents

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will face a long migration south to escape the harsh northern winter.

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Their route will take them along a coast which has been greatly affected by human activity.

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Along their journey,

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the cranes will be joined by many thousands of other migrating birds,

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all heading south across the Bohai Gulf

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and along the shores of the Yellow and East China Seas.

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Some even reaching as far as the South China Sea

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in search of a safe winter haven.

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The annual bird migration has been going on for thousands of years.

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Here at Mount Jinping, on China's northeast coast,

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there is surprising evidence that people have lived here almost as long.

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Seven thousand years ago,

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members of the Shao Hao tribe carved magical symbols

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representing significant elements of their daily lives.

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The petroglyphs show wheat sheaves connected by lines to human figures,

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the first-known recordings of cultivation in China.

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Familiar with the spectacle of yearly bird migrations,

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the Shao Hao people chose the symbol of a bird as their totem.

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Mount Jinping lies near the Shandong peninsula,

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an important wintering site for migrant birds

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and even today, there are still communities along this coastline

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who retain a special affinity with their local birdlife.

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Yandun Jiao village, on the northeastern shore of the peninsula,

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is famous for its traditional seaweed-thatched cottages.

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On a chilly morning in early spring,

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Mr and Mrs Qu venture out at first light,

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armed with the traditional seaside accessories of bucket and spade.

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As the Qus head down into the harbour, a flock of whooper swans,

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known affectionately here as "winter angels", are waking out in the bay.

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The Qus and their neighbours search for tube holes in the mud at low tide,

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the sign of cockles and razor shells hidden deep below.

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While gathering shellfish is a popular pastime,

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the main business of Yandun Jiao happens further out at sea.

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As the boats set out with Mr Qu on board,

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the swans set a parallel course.

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The whole of the bay is a gigantic seaweed farm.

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The men work all day cleaning and tending the kelp fronds

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that are grown on ropes linked to a vast armada of buoys.

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The swans eat native seaweeds growing on the surface ropes,

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rather than the valuable crop of kelp,

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so they do no harm to the commercial operation.

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In the afternoon,

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as the wind picks up out at sea,

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the workers and swans return to shore.

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While the culture of seeking balance with nature

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goes back a long way in China,

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it is rare to see such harmonious relationships on China's crowded coast.

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SIZZLING

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As evening draws on,

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the Qu family prepare their evening meal of cockles, steamed bread and seaweed.

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Leftovers are given to the village children to feed the swans.

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It's fun for the kids and provides an extra energy boost for the birds,

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as they face another cold night.

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The swans have been using this sheltered bay as a winter refuge

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for many generations.

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As long as the tradition of respect for nature persists,

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this remarkable association between the Yandun Jiao community

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and their "winter angels" looks set to continue.

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Out in the Bohai Gulf, northeast of the swan village,

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a small rocky island provides a quiet resting spot for migrating birds.

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But Shedao Island has hidden dangers.

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Pallas pit vipers, trapped here 6,000 years ago by rising sea levels,

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have evolved a sinister lifestyle.

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For ten months of the year there is nothing substantial to eat on the island,

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so the reptiles conserve their energy by barely moving at all.

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As the sun warms their rocky home,

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the snakes climb up into the bushes and trees.

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But they aren't here to sunbathe.

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More and more vipers appear

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until virtually every perch where a bird might land has been booby trapped.

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Then the waiting game begins.

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The serpents' camouflage is remarkable

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but so are the birds' reactions,

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as this high-speed shot reveals.

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The birds will only stay on the island for a couple of weeks,

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but although the snakes have been starving for months,

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their only hope of bagging a meal is to be patient and sit tight.

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The slightest miscalculation

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and the snake is left with a mouthful of feathers.

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The dropped meal is tracked down mainly by smell -

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the viper using its forked tongue

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to taste the air until it's close enough to see its quarry.

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The final challenge is to swallow a meal that's twice the size of its head.

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It does so by dislocating its jaws

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and positioning its prey so the beak is pointing backwards.

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For the reptiles, this time of plenty is all too brief.

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In a couple of weeks the migration will be over

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and the birds will have moved on.

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This could be the snake's last meal for six months.

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But it isn't just islands that experience cycles of feast and famine.

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The sea too has its seasons.

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A fact well known to fishing communities along the neighbouring coasts.

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TRADITIONAL CHINESE MUSIC PLAYS

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In Chuwang harbour, the start of a new fishing season provides the excuse for a massive party.

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But for boat owner Mr Zhao,

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it's a day of prayer as well as celebration.

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Zhao hopes that by presenting gifts

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and showing respect to the Sea Goddess,

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he can help ensure a prosperous and safe year ahead, for him and his crew.

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Meanwhile, drums, firecrackers and fireworks reflect the ancient belief

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that loud noises will frighten off dangerous sea devils and bad fortune.

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FIRECRACKERS EXPLODE

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Occupying centre stage is a representation of the sea dragon,

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mythical ruler of water and weather.

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In the calm of the evening,

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Mr Zhao and his family light paper boat lanterns.

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Each flickering flame carries a wish to the Sea Goddess -

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a tradition passed on from parents to children over countless generations.

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On China's crowded coasts, fishermen need to be extremely resourceful.

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Hauling in the nets is hard work

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and so far there's not a fish in sight.

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Only jellyfish.

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Each year, millions of jellyfish are carried south with the currents in the Bohai Gulf.

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The ecological story behind this event is complex,

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but by no means unique to China.

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Jellyfish are fast-breeding plankton feeders.

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In recent years, human sewage and fertilisers from intensive farming

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have increased plankton blooms in the Gulf,

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providing extra jellyfish food,

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while over-fishing has reduced their enemies and competitors.

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It's a phenomenon that has become increasingly widespread across the world's seas.

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However, what is seen elsewhere as a problem,

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in China is perceived as an opportunity.

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Back on shore, mule carts transport the jellyfish to nearby warehouses,

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where they will be processed and sold as food all over China.

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Four generations tuck in to a bowl of sliced jellyfish -

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the recipe for a long and healthy life.

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Leaving the Bohai Gulf behind,

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migrating cranes, spoonbills and ducks are joined by other birds,

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all heading south in search of a safe winter haven.

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The birds' migration route follows the coast of the Yellow Sea

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down into Jiangsu Province,

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a fertile agricultural landscape,

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with some of the last remaining salt marshes in China.

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At Dafeng, a small salt marsh reserve is home to an animal

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which is lucky to be alive.

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The Chinese see these milu as a curious composite animal,

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with a horse's head, cow's feet,

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a tail like a donkey and backwards-facing antlers.

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In the West we know it as Pere David's Deer,

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after the first European to describe it.

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During the rut,

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stags decorate themselves with garlands of vegetation collected in their antlers.

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Fierce battles decide mating rights.

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The females still have last year's fawns in tow.

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They haven't been weaned by the time of the rut

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and band together in large creches,

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only returning to their mothers to feed.

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This unique behaviour helps to keep them clear of the aggressive males.

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Today, there are just 2,500 milu in China...

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..but it is remarkable that there are any at all.

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In the early 1900s, milu became extinct in the wild,

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but luckily some of the Imperial herd

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had been sent as a gift to Europe.

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Those at Woburn Abbey in England prospered, and in the early 1980s,

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40 of the deer were returned to their homeland,

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where they continue to thrive.

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The migrating cranes have so far travelled over 2,000 kilometres

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southwards along the coast.

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Passing the milu deer reserve at Dafeng,

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they are approaching another salt marsh,

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which will provide the perfect conditions for them to spend the winter.

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This is Yanchen, the largest coastal wetland in China,

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visited by an estimated three million birds each year.

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Crane chicks that were only born seven months ago

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have now completed the first leg of a round trip

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which they will repeat every year.

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The hardy cranes can cope with winter temperatures which may drop below freezing.

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However, other migrating birds like the endangered black-faced spoonbill,

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are less cold-tolerant

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and will continue even further south in search of warmer climes.

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BIRDS CACKLE

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At this point, many of the migrating bird flocks

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are barely halfway along their southward journey.

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Ahead of them lies a new challenge.

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China's greatest river - the Yangtze -

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and the venue for a very different kind of migration.

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Each year, millions of tonnes of cargo travel up and down the river,

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making this one of the busiest waterways in the world.

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These are Chinese mitten crabs, named for their strange hairy claws.

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They may migrate as much as 1,500 kilometres

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from tributaries and lakes to the river mouth,

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where they gather to breed.

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A similar migration is made by the giant Yangtze sturgeon,

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which can reach four metres long and weigh half a tonne.

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In recent years, its numbers have declined dramatically

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as its migration is impeded by ever more river dams.

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But it isn't just animals like the sturgeon that are in trouble,

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the entire Yangtze river ecosystem is being poisoned.

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In spite of being the subject of an ambitious clean-up plan,

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today the river is reckoned to be the biggest single source of pollution

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entering the Pacific Ocean.

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Situated right at the mouth of its estuary,

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Chongming Island provides a vital resting and feeding spot for migrating shorebirds

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and a place which offers welcome evidence

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of changing attitudes towards the Yangtze's beleaguered wildlife.

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For centuries, these coastal mudflats have attracted hunters like Mr Jin,

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who have honed their trapping skills to perfection

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to put rare birds on the tables of Shanghai's elite.

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For 40 years, Mr Jin has used a net, simple decoy birds

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and a bamboo whistle to lure passing birds towards his nets.

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HE WHISTLES

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It takes both patience and consummate skill.

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HE IMITATES A BIRD WHISTLE

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But all is not as it seems.

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Mr Jin, like many of the best conservationists,

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is poacher turned gamekeeper,

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using his hunting skills to benefit his old quarry.

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The staff here at Dongtan Bird Reserve

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will measure, ring and weigh the trapped birds before releasing them unharmed.

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The information gathered by Mr Jin and his colleagues

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helps to protect over 200 different species of birds

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which visit the island each year.

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Just south of Chongming Island

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lies China's largest coastal city - Shanghai.

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Situated on a major migration route for birds as well as river life,

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Shanghai is now preparing for an even bigger invasion.

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Barges loaded with building materials constantly arrive in the city's docks,

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feeding one of the greatest construction booms in the world.

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Last year, half the world's concrete was poured into China's cities,

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all in preparation for the biggest mass migration of people in the history of the world.

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In the next 25 years,

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well over 300 million people are predicted to move from rural China

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into cities like Shanghai.

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The migration of people from country to city is being mirrored around the world,

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and by 2010,

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over half of the world's population will be urban dwellers.

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As night falls, Shanghai reveals its true colours.

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China's fastest-growing financial centre

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is in the midst of a massive boom.

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With an estimated population of more than 20 million,

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Shanghai is officially China's largest and certainly its most dazzling city.

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But there is an environmental cost.

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Shanghai residents now use 2½ times more power per head than their rural cousins.

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The city's seemingly insatiable energy demands

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currently require the output of 17 power stations.

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South of Shanghai,

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the city lights gradually fade as we enter an ancient world.

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This is Fujian Province,

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a rugged terrain guarded by sheer granite mountains

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which have helped to forge and preserve some of China's

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most ancient sites and traditional cultures.

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Towering above the coast, the 1,400 metre-high Taimu mountains

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are known to the Chinese as "Fairyland on the Sea".

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Moist sea breezes condense on the cool mountain tops,

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and combine with well-drained acid soils to produce

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the perfect growing conditions for acid-loving plants like wild azaleas.

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It's also home to camellias,

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including the most famous of all - the tea plant.

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Similar growing conditions all along the Fujian coast

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make this the treasure chest for China's tea,

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the heart of an industry dating back almost 4,000 years.

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One of the most traditional tea growing cultures in the area

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is that of the Kejia people.

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Every morning, goats are let loose among the tea terraces,

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a centuries-old tradition.

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This might seem surprising,

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given goats' reputation for eating anything green...

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but tea isn't as defenceless as it looks.

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Tea leaves are loaded with bitter chemicals

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designed to repel browsing animals.

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It works on the goats, who leave the tea untouched

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and instead eat up the weeds,

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fertilizing the tea plants with their droppings.

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The surprise is that we humans should find the same bitter chemical cocktail

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utterly irresistible.

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Among the Kejia people, tea-growing is a family business.

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Women do the picking, while the men process and pack it.

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Mrs Zhang belongs to a Kejia family that has

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lived and worked for generations among these same tea terraces.

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The finest tea needs to be gathered quickly in warm sunshine

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as this brings out flavour-enhancing oils inside the leaves.

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This sustainable industry has protected one of China's finest

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landscapes and one of its most traditional cultures.

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At the end of the morning's picking,

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Mrs Zhang returns home to drop off her tea ready for processing.

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This fort-like design has survived from a time when the Kejia

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needed to protect themselves against hostile local tribes.

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Each house has three or four levels,

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designed to accommodate 50 to 250 people.

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The ground floor houses the kitchens and animal stock

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with access to a well for water.

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The first floor rooms are used for storage

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and the upper floors are bedrooms.

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Some of these remarkable buildings are 800 years old

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and have survived earthquakes and typhoons.

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Once enough tea has been gathered in, the processing begins.

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Turning green leaves into saleable tea

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involves at least eight different stages.

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Including drying, bruising, sifting, squeezing and twisting,

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before the finished product is finally ready for packing.

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The Zhangs' village produces "little black dragon" or Oolong tea,

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so-called because of the way its twisted leaves unfurl

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when water is poured over them.

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Tea plays a vital part in Kejia life, not only as a source of income

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but also as a way to welcome visitors and bring people together.

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In traditional Chinese life, even the simplest cup of tea

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is poured with an intricate amount of ritual.

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In the past, the Kejia people's

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other main income came from transporting goods like tea

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across the treacherous topography of mountains and river estuaries.

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Their route was suddenly made easier when, in 1059,

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this remarkable bridge was built.

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Made from massive ten-tonne slabs of granite,

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it is one of China's lesser-known architectural gems.

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Luoyang bridge has withstood earthquakes and tempestuous tides.

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Known as "10,000 ships launching", the bridge's 46 piers

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have withstood time and tide for almost a millennium.

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According to folklore,

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its success is due to a far-sighted piece of bio-engineering -

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oysters were seeded on the piers and ever since,

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their concretions have helped cement the granite blocks together.

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Today, oysters are still cultivated here

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in the traditional way by Hui'an women.

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Stones are stood in the mudflats below the bridge

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to encourage the oysters to grow.

0:37:290:37:32

Luoyang bridge is now mainly used by locals carrying goods

0:38:140:38:18

across the estuary towards the coastal ports.

0:38:180:38:21

For more than 2,000 years, coastal trade in China has depended

0:38:270:38:32

on a remarkable and pioneering type of ship,

0:38:320:38:35

known to us as "the junk".

0:38:350:38:38

This working vessel follows a general design

0:38:440:38:47

that's been in use in Fujian for at least 600 years.

0:38:470:38:50

Its bows take the form of a beak with two large painted eyes,

0:38:520:38:57

evoking the traditional seafarers' belief

0:38:570:39:00

that the bird's image would help sailors return safely,

0:39:000:39:04

like the migrants that return each spring and autumn.

0:39:040:39:07

Tea and other goods were stored in strong bulkheads,

0:39:130:39:17

each waterproofed and separated from the next to minimize flood damage.

0:39:170:39:22

This innovation, introduced to keep precious tea cargoes dry, spurred on

0:39:250:39:31

the improvement of not only Chinese boats, but Western ones too.

0:39:310:39:36

The distinctive rigging of the junks' sails allows easy

0:39:390:39:43

handling in bad weather, essential along this storm-battered coast.

0:39:430:39:48

Each year from July to November, up to a dozen typhoons -

0:39:520:39:56

a corruption of the Chinese word for "great wind" -

0:39:560:40:00

head north-west towards China.

0:40:000:40:03

Typhoons are becoming more frequent as sea temperatures rise, aided by

0:40:070:40:12

a global increase in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

0:40:120:40:17

But satellite pictures have revealed a surprising twist.

0:40:220:40:26

It seems that typhoons can pull deep, nutrient-rich

0:40:260:40:31

seawater up to the surface, causing plankton blooms,

0:40:310:40:36

which, in turn, soak up large quantities of carbon dioxide.

0:40:360:40:41

When a typhoon strikes, one of the best places to be

0:40:510:40:54

is Hong Kong harbour, with its sheltered anchorage.

0:40:540:40:59

A centre of international trade, the city is famous for its jumble

0:41:110:41:16

of skyscrapers and its bustling commercial centre.

0:41:160:41:19

But there's a side to Hong Kong that's less well-known.

0:41:210:41:26

Behind the urban sprawl

0:41:320:41:34

lies a swathe of wetlands which include the Mai Po Nature Reserve.

0:41:340:41:40

Managed principally for the benefit of migrating birds, the reserve

0:41:400:41:44

maintains a series of traditional prawn farms known as "gei wais"

0:41:440:41:51

and their adjoining mangroves and mudflats.

0:41:510:41:54

Every two weeks from November to March, one of the gei wais

0:41:580:42:02

is drained by opening up the sluice gates.

0:42:020:42:04

As the water level falls, birds begin to gather.

0:42:160:42:21

Herons, egrets and cormorants

0:42:210:42:24

mingle with a far rarer visitor -

0:42:240:42:28

the black-faced spoonbill.

0:42:280:42:31

These endangered migrants have travelled the length

0:42:340:42:37

of the Chinese coastline from Northern China and Korea.

0:42:370:42:43

Mai Po marks the end of a 2,000 kilometre journey,

0:42:430:42:47

during which the birds may have lost up to a third of their body weight.

0:42:470:42:51

400 black-faced spoonbills,

0:42:520:42:55

a quarter of the world's population, pass the winter here.

0:42:550:43:00

At low water, trapped shrimps and fish become easy prey -

0:43:040:43:10

a life-saver for these endangered birds.

0:43:100:43:14

The Mai Po marshes are part of the Pearl River estuary,

0:43:280:43:33

whose muddy shores abound with crabs, worms and mud-skippers.

0:43:330:43:38

Exposed at low tide, this smorgasbord of mud-life

0:43:540:43:58

attracts both waders and the gei wai birds.

0:43:580:44:02

Here on the mudflats of Inner Deep Bay, each kind of bird

0:44:190:44:23

has its own specific feeding zone defined by the depth of the water,

0:44:230:44:28

the length of its beak and its feeding technique.

0:44:280:44:32

Once refuelled, they revel in synchronised aerial displays.

0:44:410:44:47

More than any other place on China's coastline,

0:45:140:45:16

Inner Deep Bay demonstrates that with help,

0:45:160:45:20

resilient nature can still thrive, even when boxed in

0:45:200:45:24

and overshadowed by towering cities like Shenzhen.

0:45:240:45:29

Another successful example of man's intervention on behalf of nature

0:45:350:45:41

can be glimpsed in the waters around Lantau Island.

0:45:410:45:45

While egrets make the most of an easy meal,

0:45:480:45:52

other creatures have their eye on the fishermen's catch.

0:45:520:45:56

Chinese White dolphins are estuary specialists.

0:46:060:46:11

Found widely in the Indian and Pacific Ocean,

0:46:160:46:19

this species is rare in China.

0:46:190:46:21

The young are born dark grey and become spotted as adolescents,

0:46:230:46:28

finally turning creamy-white as adults,

0:46:300:46:33

though on some occasions they may blush a delicate shade of pink.

0:46:330:46:38

Three groups of dolphins live close to Lantau Island.

0:46:520:46:56

As the tide comes in, they move with it to feed on small fish or squid

0:46:560:47:01

which travel with the currents,

0:47:010:47:04

using echolocation to "see" their prey through the murky water.

0:47:040:47:08

They also use sound to communicate.

0:47:120:47:15

DOLPHIN SQUEAKS

0:47:150:47:18

But they face a deafening problem.

0:47:180:47:20

BOAT ENGINES ROAR

0:47:200:47:22

The Pearl Estuary has become one of the busiest shipping channels

0:47:250:47:29

in China and the dolphins are constantly bombarded with sound.

0:47:290:47:33

New research suggests that they may now pack more information

0:47:400:47:44

into shorter calls in a bid to be heard.

0:47:440:47:48

Local conservationists have now set up a protected zone near Lantau Island.

0:47:490:47:55

So for now, China's white dolphins are holding on.

0:47:550:47:59

South of Hong Kong lies the South China Sea,

0:48:070:48:10

studded with more than 200 hundred islands and reefs.

0:48:100:48:15

Potential reserves of fish, oil and gas make each one strategic

0:48:170:48:22

and the whole region has become a political hot-spot, as territorial

0:48:220:48:27

disputes simmer between its many neighbouring countries.

0:48:270:48:31

The waters themselves are low in nutrients and would be poor in life

0:48:350:48:40

if it wasn't for the other resource that's here in abundance.

0:48:400:48:44

Sunlight.

0:48:440:48:46

In the shallows of the coral atolls,

0:48:510:48:53

small jellyfish point their tentacles towards the sun.

0:48:530:48:57

Like many animals here, they depend on a close partnership

0:48:570:49:02

with microscopic algae

0:49:020:49:04

which turn solar power into food.

0:49:040:49:08

The most famous of these relationships

0:49:080:49:11

is the reef-forming corals,

0:49:110:49:13

which provide the foundation of the sea's most dazzling ecosystem.

0:49:130:49:18

Their branches provide shelter

0:49:220:49:24

for a wealth of small and vulnerable creatures...

0:49:240:49:27

many of them beautifully camouflaged.

0:49:270:49:30

But the ultimate master of disguise has to be the octopus,

0:49:330:49:37

able to change not only its shape and colour,

0:49:370:49:41

but its skin texture too.

0:49:410:49:42

Where the reefs meet deeper waters,

0:49:520:49:54

up-welling currents carry nutrients to the surface.

0:49:540:49:59

Reef fish swim out to gorge themselves on the resulting food,

0:50:040:50:09

in turn attracting larger predatory fish to the reefs.

0:50:090:50:14

Trevally prowl in dense packs.

0:50:240:50:27

Giant rays sweep in on graceful wings

0:50:310:50:35

to hoover up the remaining plankton...

0:50:350:50:39

which also attracts the king of fish!

0:50:390:50:43

Growing up to 12 metres long, the whale shark is a gentle giant.

0:50:530:50:59

And these days, a rare sighting.

0:51:000:51:03

As sharks small and large are plundered

0:51:110:51:14

to supply the East-Asian shark meat trade,

0:51:140:51:18

the fate of these fabulous creatures hangs in the balance.

0:51:180:51:22

While healthy coral reefs still survive in the remote islands,

0:51:260:51:30

the situation close to the Chinese coast is quite different.

0:51:300:51:35

BOAT ENGINE RUMBLES

0:51:350:51:37

The waters along the shores of Hainan,

0:51:410:51:44

China's largest tropical island,.

0:51:440:51:46

have been fished for thousands of years.

0:51:460:51:50

As the reefs become less and less productive,

0:51:590:52:02

fishermen from Tanmen harbour

0:52:020:52:04

need all their resourcefulness to make a living.

0:52:040:52:08

Dicing with death, they breathe air pumped through hose pipes

0:52:220:52:26

in a desperate bid to catch the last remaining sea life.

0:52:260:52:30

Over the years, increased sedimentation and the use

0:52:320:52:35

of dynamite and cyanide means the corals close to shore

0:52:350:52:39

are barely hanging on.

0:52:390:52:41

Recently, the government has recognized that regulation is needed

0:52:520:52:56

if the local fishery is to survive for the future.

0:52:560:53:00

Fishing is now banned for two months of the year

0:53:040:53:07

to allow marine life a chance to breed.

0:53:070:53:10

One of the most important tropical habitats

0:53:240:53:26

for young fish is mangrove swamps.

0:53:260:53:29

In the last 40 years, 80% of China's mangroves have been destroyed.

0:53:300:53:36

But at the Dahuajiao Mangrove Reserve in Hainan,

0:53:370:53:41

a remarkable conservation initiative is bringing

0:53:410:53:44

young Chinese volunteers together

0:53:440:53:47

to plant mangrove saplings in the glutinous mud.

0:53:470:53:51

For many of these city-born students, such unglamorous work

0:53:540:53:58

demonstrates their commitment to their country's environment.

0:53:580:54:02

Like other heavily populated countries,

0:54:040:54:07

China today is faced with a challenge -

0:54:070:54:11

how best to protect nature in an increasingly crowded space.

0:54:110:54:16

These wild macaques live on a tiny Hainan Island Reserve,

0:54:310:54:37

where they are carefully managed and looked after.

0:54:370:54:40

Most of the island's hillsides are covered with tropical woodland,

0:54:460:54:51

but there are also areas of flower meadows

0:54:510:54:53

where the monkeys gather to feed.

0:54:530:54:55

Each morning as the tropical sun heats their island,

0:55:070:55:11

the macaques head downhill in search of somewhere cooler...

0:55:110:55:14

And what could be more refreshing than a dip in the pool?!

0:55:180:55:23

To the Chinese, combining a wildlife reserve with a tourist development

0:55:510:55:56

makes perfect commercial sense.

0:55:560:55:58

And the monkeys don't seem at all unhappy with the deal!

0:55:590:56:02

The question is,

0:56:090:56:11

where to draw the line.

0:56:110:56:12

Like the rest of the world, China is still feeling its way

0:56:210:56:25

towards a harmonious relationship with nature.

0:56:250:56:28

600 years ago, the people who lived here carved this calligraphy

0:56:320:56:37

in the rocks, announcing it to be, "the end of the world".

0:56:370:56:43

In recent years, that world has undergone a massive expansion

0:56:500:56:54

as tourists from all over China

0:56:540:56:57

have discovered the delights of Hainan's tropical seaside resorts.

0:56:570:57:01

By 2010, China's total tourism revenue

0:57:050:57:10

is expected to hit £75 billion a year.

0:57:100:57:14

While insensitive development could destroy China's natural environment,

0:57:210:57:26

well managed eco-tourism could provide huge benefits for China's wildlife.

0:57:260:57:33

The issues that face China today - increasing pressure on resources

0:57:360:57:41

and living space and quality of environment -

0:57:410:57:45

are those that face us all.

0:57:450:57:47

If there is any country in the world

0:57:510:57:54

equipped to solve environmental problems on a vast scale...

0:57:540:57:58

..it has to be China,

0:57:590:58:01

with its tremendous human resources and powerful political control.

0:58:010:58:07

The path it chooses will affect not just its own people

0:58:070:58:11

and its natural environment,

0:58:110:58:15

but the rest of the world too.

0:58:150:58:17

Documentary series featuring pioneering images that capture the dazzling array of mysterious and wonderful creatures populating China's most beautiful landscapes.

Ancient tea-growing cultures, traditional seaweed-thatched villages, bird-filled wetlands, rare white dolphins, snake-infested islands and futuristic cities jostle along China's fertile eastern seaboard, which marks the front line in the scramble for resources and space between 700 million people and a surprising wealth of wildlife.


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