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Half Empty ep.3: Monks work to keep vital Asian water source Sanjiangyuan healthy

Reporter: Han Bin 丨 CCTV.com

05-18-2015 05:06 BJT

Full coverage: Special Series: Half Empty

Sanjiangyuan reserve is huge water source for China, and water from the plateau also flows into several other Asian countries. Its name translates to mean "Three Rivers' Headwaters".

Bangqiong Monastery sits on the edge of the Tibetan plateau. Jiangyangluozhu, 52,   takes water from the foot of the mountain every day.

 Monks work to keep vital Asian water source Sanjiangyuan healthy

For thousands of years, the water has given life to the monks and local herdsmen. But over the past years, Jiangyangluozhu says he has seen the lakes disappearing and mountain snow melting.

Tibetans worship the purity of the water. They believe every river, blade of grass and even stone, has its own life, and cherish deep feelings for them. The monk hopes the changes to the environment will slow, and people can do something to save the ecosystem, which once provided so much.

What he does not know is that changes on the plateau have a huge impact on other changes. The ecosystem governs the weather system and determines the amount of water.

The first barrel of water is always used to worship the Buddha. It is a way to give thanks for the Buddha's generosity and pray for sustainable wealth and harmony in life.

"I remember when I first arrived at the monastery at the age of 18, the river in front of the monastery was so big that we had to cross on horseback. The grass used to be so high that it could hide animals. There was a lot of livestock as well. Now, water is much less. We can even walk across it. Vegetation in the area is also disappearing," said Jiangyangluozhu.

Bangqiong Monastery is about 4,000 meters above sea level. To the 200 monks there, preserving the water source and its surrounding ecosystem is as important as their religion.

Sanjiangyuan, the origin of China 's three major rivers, has and will continue to become warmer and wetter as a result of global warming. China established the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve in 2000, hoping to repair the fragile ecosystem. Local Tibetans regard preserving the water source there as preserving their own life and living.

Jiangyangluozhu wants more Tibetans to know about the environmental changes in Sanjiangyuan. He has become a water ranger. He is actively engaged in conservation and campaigning.

The family of Wangcairen has been living by the source for generations. They refused to be relocated to government-designated communities, mainly because they want to drink the water from the source.

Water is regarded as the family's most valuable treasure. And Jiangyangluozhu's ceremony of worshiping with the water has made them treasure it even more.

“Buddhism believes water has eight merits, including life support, treatment for diseases and worshiping Buddha. Water belongs to the god Le So, and all life relies on it. Buddhism underscores great love. And people should be grateful to it," said Jiangyangluozhu.

Water at Sanjiangyuan used to be endless and almost all of it was drinkable. Now, things are changing. Jiangyangluozhu is aware of the problem.

As climate change continues to heat up, he prays that China's water tower will survive the crisis and that the Bangqiong Monastery will continue to serve for thousands of years more.

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