Mar. 23, 2023

Searching for China’s Water (9) The Main Source of Yellow River

Searching for China’s Water (9)

―Yueguzonglie, the main source of the Yellow River 

Words and Pictures by Yongchen Wang

This morning when I was washing face at the entrance of the Yellow River ,where the river meet with Zhaling Lake,I saw three motorcycles crossing the river from the other side of the it.When rushing there,I found Yang Fan,the journalist of The Travel Channel,having been there and shooting.

Cross the Yellow River

The 19-year-old Tibetan young man
When they arrived at this side side of river,I talked with Peng Ba,a young man who could speak Chinese.He is a 19-year-old local in Zhaling Village.He dropped out at the first year of junior high school,because of lacking money.Now their life depends mainly on raising cattle and sheep .Thanks to solar panels that each family got from the government,the power was not the problem.It was more easy to beat butter using the solar energy than just by hand in the past,said the young man.
I asked him,”as a young man,don’t you want to go outside and have a look at the world?”He said,no.When I asked why,he answered that he should look after the elders at home,as well as cattle and sheep.
I asked him,”are there any changes these years in Zhaling Lake?”He told me that the water was less than before,and their two yaks froze to death when suffered from the snowstorm in may this year,with a dozen more in the whole village.
I asked him,”there are so many fish in Zhaling Lake,did not you catch them,did you?”I received a”no”again.I wondered that was because this behavior was not allowed or just you locals did not want to.He answered:”It is not allowed and we tibaten do not want to”.
It is interesting that the 19-year-old Tibaten young man liked listening to our The Central People's Broadcasting Station’s programs.When I asked him which was his favourite program,the answer was the news and the cartoon stories of the children’s programs,in which he preferred cartoons. He did not get television at home because of inconvenience of transportation and information beside  Zaling Lake.So radio was the only way he connected with the outside world.He lived in the source of the river which is as beautiful as heaven and he liked cartoons so much,isn’t it due to his longing for the kindness,courage and wisdom?
Family,cattle and sheep,fish,cartoon,all the things about the young men growing up with Zaling Lake.They have the characteristics and customs of simple, filial piety, respect natural and follow the government complyingly.
I asked him if he had a girlfriend,he said no.Then I asked,”looking for someone outside or in the village,which one you prefer?”He preferred the later choice.When asked about whether he had a dream lover,he smiled shyly.I asked if he would let his children go to school in the future,he answered me that it depends on the conditions at that time.
The three Tibetan young man left ,riding their motocycles.The pop songs from their motocycles could be heard till they went so far away.

Duoqu three rivers’ head source nature reserve
The desertification is very serious beside Zhaling Lake(photographs by Yang Yong)
Today our destination was source of the Yellow River.Yang Yong told us it was the source’s region that above Heling Lake and Zhaling Lake.The Yellow River has three big source regions:Relaqu、Kariqu and Yueguzongliequ,among which Yueguzonglie is the main source.
At present,the character of the whole source of Yellow River’s wetland is not obvious.Wetlands and lakes like Xianxinghai is hard to pick out now.In 2007,when greensos traveled in three rivers’ head source nature reserve,we wanted to look for Xianxinghai,but in vain.And it could not be found this time,either.Yang Yong said,there was still some sydaon left,but the water in which was very,very little.

The source of the river today
Now they are the only animals that can be seen in the source of the river

The variety of the characters,which three major sources of the Yellow River have,now can not be seen any more.Instead of them are some sandy meadow and habitat depression.Yueguzonglie Basind,which mainly constituded swamps in the past time,now changs into some independent and sporadic sydaon.Swamps dewatered and drying seriously.
This is the source of the river as well
The only remaining sydaon 

The family living beside river

When we were in some bridges of Cariqu,concerned about the present situation of the source of the Yellow River,we saw groups of fish swimming in the river again.The situation just like the  text described which we read in our primary school:beat the roe deer with a stick,catch fish wirh big spoon and pheasant flies into the pot.Chen Xianxin,a fellow coming from Wenzhou,always asked me wether we could have fish as dishes whenever we had meals.Seeing so many fish in the river,even Chen Xianxin rushed to the river to have a closer look.
At the mean time I asked Yang Yong:”could we eat some fish?”Yang Yong answered without hesitation:”you’d better give up and do as Roman’s do”.
He is right.Last year when I interviewed along the Lancang River,the local Living Buddha told me a cow was also a life,as well as a fish.You’d better not hurt them.The first time I went to the source of Changjang River in 1998,my fellows thinking about fishing in the river all day long.But as a scientist,Yang Yong respected not only nature itself,but also the custom of the locals.
In fact I contradicted with myself when asking whether we could catch some fish or not. I wanted to eat,but at the same time for fear that he really agreed with me.If it had come ture,it would have betrayed the faith of the person who loves nature and respect the custom.At last he said not to catch fish,and I gave up that idea,too.So it was not easy for a person to respect nature and the local customs.
Why we could see so many fish under the bridge?Maybe it was a common feature of fish after spawning in the Yellow River and Changjiang River.They like growing up in the rapids.I do not know much about the Yellow River, but fish fries of the four main fish in the Changjang River gather in groups after spawned.They were rushed to the middle and lower reaches of Changjiang River by rapids.But the construction of power station has made the lake calm,which is deadly to those little lives.So the rapids under the Rikaqu Bridge makes the place a good habitat for the fish,where they can play and grow up happily.
The flinching Rikaqu
All the black ones are fish
On our way to the source of river,we saw the “No.1 Brige of the Yellow River” at present time.The reason why I emphasize on“at present time”was that Maduo Bridge also was called “No.1 Bridge of the Yellow River”not long ago.In Kariqu,which was at the upriver of Maduo,where another bridge was built.I wondered if more bridges will be built along the upper reaches of the Yellow River,who knows?Because it was the No.1,everyone took photoes there for a souvenir,even Yang Yong was not the exception.This was the first time we saw him taking photoes with his son Yang Fan——the director of The Travel Channel.
Father and son,two generations that looking for water
For a long time I was not understanding why Maduo County was the Yellow River’s No.1 county,so was Qumalai County.This time I understood.Several days before we went to Guoluo City’s Maduo county,in which locating Stele of Head of Cow.While today we arrived at Maduo village,which means “the source of the Yellow River”in Tibaten language.Maduo Village belonged to Malai County,which was under control of Yushu City.
In Maduo Village,we encountered some cadre-like persons sitting beside the river.After talking we knew that he was Luosong Zhaxi,the vice head of Maduo Village. Some young locals clinged to our car’s windows for fun when we were asking the direction in Maduo Village.We asked them:”are there any differences of the water between present time and the past ?”They said “no,just the same”.
Come for a closer look
Now the water is less than a half or more compared with before 
The Canadian company’s mine exploration demages the grass field
It is obvious that the water is far less than before,and the desertification is really serious.Why they said it stayed the same?When we asked Luo Song again,the vice township head,he told us:”water could reach that stone,but now it is much less than it used to be.” pointing the river beside us.
And he added that:”the young men you just talked with may not understand your words”Then we asked him if he knew something about the global climate change,as so many people we questioned did not know.”Do you know the influence that the global climate change have on the discrict of the source of the Yellow River?”
Luo Song said:”Of course.For the source of the river the biggist influence is the decrease of rainfall,the increase of the evaporation amount and the man-made sabotage,besides the extraordinary weather.This kind of man-made sabotage is not owing to the increasing amount of our cattle and sheep,but the gold mining by a Canadian company.The goldfield is in the main part of the nature reserve,so the damage is very serious.
“can’t you stop the behavour?””They came here in the name of tourism develop,but in fact it is gold mining and the co-operation company’s formality is pretty good.Our village can not stop it,not mention the Yushu City.They digged our green grass field into holes everywhere.Always, someone says that the grass field’s desertification due to the increase of the cattle and sheep.But how can the land be damaged that much just with the cattle and sheep?”
We decided to go to the goldfield immediately which in the charge of the canadians,with Luo Song leading us.But he said because of the H1N1,canadians were not there,so it was empty now.And in 2007,Yang Yong already took some photos of the canadians who were exploiting the mine.So we decided to go to the source of the Yellow River first.
We wanted Luo Song to write us a article concerning this thing,including who did the thing and what damages had been made.When we return to Beijing,we will look for some related departments,as well as canadian non-governmental organizations,to solve the problem.We hoped them to investigate the reason why in the region of the Yellow River’s source,those canadians who in the name of tourism develop,developed the mine at the cost of the damaging of our mother river?If they were in Canada,would they do the same thing?A name occurred to me when I wrote these words:Bai Qiuen.
Send umbrella
I wonder what she is thinking about
In 1999,the first time I went to the source of Changjiang River,it hailed nearly every evening.Today when on our way to the source of the Yellow River,we encountered the hailing again.But this time we were lucky than last time that we needed not walk along the source of the river and try our best to find shields,because we were in the car.
But just in front of our car a woman and her two tiny boys squatted on grassland,with hailing on their dorsums.Our cameramen Zhou Yu jumped out of the car and sent them an umbrella.We followed him and sent them something to eat.I was curious about the expression in the little girl’s eyes.How did she think of us in her little pure heart?We took the picture of the mother and her children in a umbrella with the big prairie as their background.But I felt a little groomy.Maybe that was the way the locals lived with nature.
Last time when Yang Yong reached the source of the Yellow River, the armor plate of the off-road vehicle broke up.It took them 6 days to wait and change the plate to a new one in Ge’ermu.At that time they received much help from the Huangheyuan Primary School.Because of the hail,today we drove into that primary school again before we went to the source.Different from last time,they had moved into new schoolhouses.
So warm
Children whose house are in the source of the river
Teachers and students invited us into the room with open arms.They served us tea,at the same time stared at us with their curious eyes.
When it stopped raining,we wanted to go to the source first.Because of their enthusiasm,we decided to go back to eat and live in the school instead of making tents and having picnic beside the source of the Yellow River.We could also communicate with teachers about children living in the source.
Huangheyuan Primary School with the beautiful rainbow
When we drove in the swap of the source after leaving the school,suddenly we saw a beautiful rainbow falling on three buildings far away,which were exact Huangheyuan Primary School.Children seemed to be potected by magic light with the rainbow spreading.
The sign of the source of river
Water of the Yellow River flows smoothly from here
Yellow River’s water from the grassland
When we reached the source of the Yellow River,it was getting dark. The afterglow spread on the grassland in the source,just like a clear spring coming out of the golden prairie.
Standing in the source of the Yellow River of Yueguzonglie Basin,Yang Yong told us the amount of water was decreasing,which came from the mouths of springs in the mountainside around here.The moutain above mouths of springs had already desertificated and bald.The water level of the spring groups in Yueguzonglie had been decreasing over 10 metres in the last decade.One of our members measured the distance between the outlet today and the one that Yang Yong signed last time with his steps.After accounting,we drew a conclusion that the groundwater level was declining more or less two metres each year on average.
If looking far away from here,we could find it obvious that the desertification around the flat valley was serious,as well as the swamp and grassland formed by the spring group of the Yellow River.
Expeditions in the source of the Yellow River
The Greensos’s volunteers in the source of the Yellow River
Record the original sound of the Yellow River
Our car got into mud again when we leaving the source of the Yellow River.As soon as the car got unstuck,I could not help crying.The source is so pure and clear because of nobody living there.Why the Yellow River are desertificated, cutted off and getting dirty with we human beings ?
The pray of the source of river
The locals in the source of river get on well with primitive nature with their attitude towards it.When can we get to know nature again?When can we let nature regress to the original pure and  clear?Can’t we?I asked myself again and again in the source region with the dark falling.
The sunset of the source
The sunset of the source
The source with the dark falling


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