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Chiang Tang Nature Reserve quest for water

10-03-2012 18:00 BJT Special Report:Rediscover Ngari |

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By CCTV Liao Ruochen

As our journey in Chiang Tang Nature Reserve continues, even in the harsh environment of Tibet, nature has found a home for many different forms of life. But none of them can survive without one thing: water.

Water is the most essential element for life. Here in Chiang Tang, it’s in abundance, but not in a form that can sustain life. The glaciers and snow caps store vast amounts of water, and lakes of various sizes are scattered like emeralds on a green blanket. But to those who really know this place, these lakes are not a good source of water.

Bangong Cuo is the biggest lake here in western Chiang Tang. It’s more than 70 kilometers long and stretches across the border into India. It’s shaped like a pear; broader inside China, and growing thinner as it goes towards India. The lake is supplied by two streams. The part inside China is fresh water, but it gets salty on the end inside India.

As our journey in Chiang Tang Nature Reserve continues, even in the harsh
environment of Tibet, nature has found a home for many different forms of
life. But none of them can survive without one thing: water.

Chiang Tang area is an inland drainage basin. Most of the water does not flow into rivers and oceans, but has formed in-land lakes. Abundant sunlight helps speed up evaporation. And there’s another factor at work.

Fresh water lakes like this are rare in Chiang Tang. The soil here is rich in minerals, which seeps into the water, making it too salty to drink.

That is why even the land around these small lakes and water pools is barren. The white color of the rocks is the result of sediment left by the mineral-rich water. As we venture deeper, even these water pools became smaller and the distance between them grows larger. Only in the mountains, where the cold wind is blocked out, and melted water forms streams, life blooms in these glades, a sharp contrast to the barren plains. But these sanctuaries are very limited. An increasing number of livestock brought by human settlements is taking over at a speed that wild animals cannot hope to match. And besides the need for water to drink, it is also vital for the survival of many other species. Wan Zhikang is a zoologist who had been studying the birds of Chiang Tang. His gives us more insight into the importance of water.

As our journey in Chiang Tang Nature Reserve continues, even in the harsh
environment of Tibet, nature has found a home for many different forms of
life. But none of them can survive without one thing: water.

Chiang Tang has more than a hundred kinds of birds. That’s not a very big number compared China as a whole. But a lot of important and rare waterfowl make this place the destination of their summer migration. The bar-headed goose and the black necked crane, for instance, fly here and raise their young. They stay here for the entire summer so it’s vital that they can find enough food in the water and that they are not disturbed when hatching their offsprings. Their number serves as an indicator of the level of water pollution, because they are most sensitive to water that has been affected.

And none of us want that to change for the worse. Chiang Tang has been the summer habitat for these birds for hundreds of years. But the fresh water lakes that have been their home are essential for any creature living within hundreds of kilometers. There are already roads being built and houses being constructed near BANGONG CUO, and when we change this place to make it our home, where will the home for these birds be?

 

Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source: CCTV.com

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