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Wild China -

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(generated from captions) Before we go, a brief look back at our - efforts will continue through the evening to free a man trapped

trapped in Wombeyan caves north

of Goulburn. The man who is diabetic has been underground

for two days. The death toll in

China's earthquake has risen above 32,000 but six days after

being pull the disaster people are still

rubble. That's the news for now. Thanks for your company. CSI

. The last hidden world - China. travellers to China have told tales For centuries, of magical landscapes.

And surprising creatures. is the world's oldest Chinese civilisation with well over a billion people. and today, its largest ethnic groups It's home to more than 50 distinct of traditional lifestyles and a wide range with nature. often in close partnership We know that China faces and environmental problems. immense social But there is great beauty here too. highest mountains. China is home to the world's

searing hot to mine-numbing cold. Vast deserts ranging from

harbouring rare creatures. Steaming forests Grassy plains beneath vast horizons. And rich tropical seas.

Now for the first time ever, of this great country. we can explore the whole exotic creatures that live here. Meet some of the surprising and the people and wildlife of China And consider the relationship of in which they live. to the remarkable landscape

This is Wild China. THEME MUSIC

in the warm subtropical south. Our exploration of China begins and birds perch on bamboo rafts. On the Li River, fishermen more than 1,000 years. A partnership that goes back throughout the world. This scenery is known

in Chinese paintings... A recurring motif ..and a major tourist attraction. The south of China is a vast area. Eight times larger than the UK, it's a landscape of hills but also of water.

to 250 days a year It rains here for up and standing water is everywhere. of the Yangtze River, In a flood plain probe the mud in search of worms. black-tailed godwits

that thrives in this environment. But it isn't just wildlife provides ideal conditions The swampy ground of the grass family - for a remarkable member Rice. rice for at least 8,000 years. The Chinese have been cultivating It has transformed the landscape.

Late winter in Southern Yunnan is a busy time for local farmers the age-old paddy fields as they prepare ready for the coming spring. of the Yuanyang county These hill slopes

to the floor of the Red River valley. plunge nearly 2,000 metres thousands of stacked terraces Each contains literally using basic digging tools. carved out by hand the oldest human structures in China. Yunnan's rice terraces are among as they always have been Still ploughed by domesticated water buffaloes in these very valleys. whose ancestors originated

of the most amazing engineering feats This man-made landscape is one

of pre-industrial China. square inch of land It seems as if every has been pressed into cultivation.

an age-old ritual unfolds. As evening approaches, It's the mating season for the attention of the females. and male paddy frogs are competing

too much attention to yourself. But it doesn't always pay to draw is a pitiless predator. The Chinese pond heron

of a ploughed paddy field, Even in the middle nature is red in beak and claw. This may look like a slaughter only one frog at a time, but as each heron can swallow to croak another day. the vast majority will escape of the Yuanyang County Terrace paddies like those much of southern China. are found across dominated by rice cultivation. This whole vast landscape is In hilly Guizhou Province,

a remarkable rice culture. the Miao minority have developed given over to rice cultivation, With every inch of fertile land the Miao build their wooden houses least productive hillsides. on the steepest and everything has a use. In Chinese rural life, manure from the cow sheds Dried in the sun,

will be used as cooking fuel. DOGS BARK (All speak Chinese) are tucking in It's midday and the Sung family and vegetables. to a lunch of rice (Speaks Chinese)

Oblivious to the domestic chitchat, has serious matters on his mind. Grandad Gu Yung Sho of the rice growing season. Spring is the start The success of the crop will eat next year will determine how well the family

the right time is critical. so planting it at the weather will do this year. The ideal date depends on what Never easy to predict. some surprising help at hand. But there is of the Sungs' living room, On the ceiling arrived from their winter migration, a pair of red-rumped swallows, newly is busy fixing up last year's nest. as much for their symbolic meaning In China, animals are valued as for any good they may do.

that swallow pairs Miao people believe remain faithful for life. and a blessing So their presence is a favour

and good luck to a home. bringing happiness to a marriage Like most Miao dwellings, look out over the paddy fields. the Sungs' living room windows one of these windows From early spring, the swallows come and go freely. is always left open to let the exact day the swallows return. Each year, Grandad Gu notes

the birds' arrival Miao people believe of the season ahead. predicts the timing This year, they were late. community elders have agreed So Gu and the other

should be delayed accordingly. that rice planting

their fields for planting, As the Miao prepare to repair their nests the swallows collect mud across the newly ploughed paddies. and chase after insects

Finally, after weeks of preparation, for planting has arrived. the ordained time uprooted from the nursery beds But first, the seedlings must be and bundled up ready to be transported to their new paddy higher up the hillside. All the Sungs' neighbours have turned out to help with the transplanting. It's how the community has always worked.

When the time comes, the Sungs will return the favour. While the farmers are busy in the fields, the swallows fly back and forth with material for their nest.

Many hands make light work. Planting the new paddy takes little more than an hour.

Job done, the villagers can relax. At least until tomorrow. But for the nesting swallows, the work of raising a family has only just begun.

In the newly planted fields, little egrets hunt for food. The rice paddies harbour tadpoles, fish and insects and the egrets have chicks to feed. This colony in Chongqing Province was established in 1996

when a few dozen birds built nests in the bamboo grove behind Yuanyang village. Believing they were a sign of luck, local people initially protected the egrets and the colony grew. But their attitude changed when the head of the village fell ill. They blamed the birds and were all set to destroy their nests

when the local government stepped in to protect them. Bendy bamboo may not be the safest nesting place but at least this youngster won't end up as someone's dinner.

These chicks have just had an eel delivered by their mum. Quite a challenge for little beaks. Providing their colonies are protected, wading birds like egrets are among the few wild creatures which benefit directly from intensive rice cultivation. Growing rice needs lots of water but even in the rainy south, there are landscapes where water is surprisingly scarce. This vast area of south-west China, a size of France and Spain combined, is famous for its clusters of conical hills like giant upturned egg cartons separated by dry, empty valleys. This is the karst - a limestone terrain

which has become the defining image of southern China.

Karst landscapes are often studded with rocky outcrops forcing local farmers to cultivate tiny fields. The people who live here are among the poorest in China.

In neighbouring Yunnan Province, limestone rocks have taken over entirely. ORIENTAL MUSIC This is the famous Stone Forest, the product of countless years of erosion

producing a maze of deep gullies and sharp-edged pinnacles. Limestone has the strange property that it dissolves in rainwater. Over many thousands of years,

water has corroded its way deep into the heart of the bedrock itself. This natural wonder is a famous tourist spot receiving close to two million visitors each year. The Chinese are fond of curiously-shaped rocks and many have been given fanciful names. No prizes for guessing what this one is called.

But there's more to this landscape than meets the eye. China has literally thousands of mysterious caverns concealed beneath the visible landscape of the karst. Much of this hidden world has never been seen by human eyes and is only just now being explored.

(Man speaks Chinese) On a growing band of intrepid young Chinese explorers, caves represent the ultimate adventure. Exploring a cave is like taking a journey through time. A journey which endless raindrops will have followed over countless centuries.

Fed by countless drips and trickles, the subterranean river carves ever deeper into the rock. The cave river's course

is channelled by the beds of limestone. A weakness in the rock can allow the river to increase its gradient and flow rate providing a real challenge for the cave explorers.

The downward rush is halted when the water table is reached.

Here the slow flowing river carves tunnels with a more rounded profile. This tranquil world is home to specialised cave fishes. Like the eyeless golden barb.

China may have more unique kinds of cave-evolved fishes

than anywhere else on Earth. Above the water table, ancient caverns abandoned by the river slowly fill up with stalactites and stalagmites. Stalactites form as trickling water

deposits tiny quantities of rock over hundreds of thousands of years. Stalagmites grow up where lime-laden drips hit the cave floor.

(Screams)

So far, only a fraction of China's caves have been thoroughly prospected and cavers are constantly discovering new subterranean marvels, many of which are subsequently developed into commercial show caves.

Finally escaping the darkness, the cave river and its human explorers emerge in a valley far from where their journey began. For now, the adventure is over. Rivers which issue from caves

are the key to the survival in the karst country. This vertical gorge in Guizhou Province

is a focal point for the region's wildlife. This is one of the world's rarest primates - Francois' langur.

In China, they survive in just two southern provinces - Guizhou and Guangxi - always in rugged limestone terrains. Like most monkeys, they are social creatures and spend a great deal of time grooming each other.

Langurs are essentially vegetarian with a diet of buds, fruits and tender young leaves. Babies are born with ginger fur which gradually turns black from the tail end. Young infants have a vice-like grip used to cling onto Mum for dear life. As they get older, they get bolder and take more risks. Those that survive spend a lot of time travelling. The experienced adults know exactly where to find seasonal foods in different parts of their range. In such steep terrain, travel involves a high level of climbing skill. These monkeys are spectacularly good rockclimbers from the time they learn to walk. In langur society, females rule the roost and take the lead when the family is on the move. ORIENTAL MUSIC One section of cliff oozes a trickle of mineral-rich water which the monkeys seem to find irresistible. These days, there are few predators in the Mayanghe Reserve which might pose a risk to a baby monkey. But in past centuries, this area of south China was home to leopards, pythons and even tigers.

To survive dangerous night prowlers, the langurs went underground Using their rockclimbing skills to seek shelter in inaccessible caverns. Filmed in near darkness using a night vision camera, the troop clambers along familiar ledges worn smooth by generations before them. During cold winter weather, the monkeys venture deeper underground

where the air stays comparatively warm. At last, journey's end. A cosy niche beyond the reach of even the most enterprising predator.

In southern China, caves aren't just used for shelter. They can be a source of revenue for the community.

People have been visiting this cave for generations.

The cave floor is covered in guano, so plentiful that 10 minutes work can fill these farmers' baskets. It's used as a valuable source of fertiliser. A clue to the source of the guano can be heard above the noise of the river.

The sound originates high up in the roof of the cave. The entrance is full of swifts. They're very sociable birds. More than 200,000 of them share this cave in southern Guizhou Province, the biggest swift colony in China. These days, Chinese house swifts

mostly nest in the roofs of buildings but rock crevices like these were their original home long before houses were invented. Though the swifts depend on the cave for shelter, they never stray further than the limits of daylight as their eyes can't see in the dark. However, deep inside the cavern, other creatures are better equipped

for subterranean life. A colony of bats is just waking up using ultrasonic squeaks to orientate themselves in the darkness. Night is the time to go hunting.

CRICKETS CHIRP

Rickett's mouse-eared bat is the only bat in Asia which specialises in catching fishes

tracking them down from the sound reflection of ripples on the water surface.

This extraordinary behaviour was only discovered in the last couple of years and has never been filmed before.

If catching fish in the dark is impressive, imagine eating a slippery minnow with no hands while hanging upside down. Dawn over the karst hills of Guilin. These remarkable hills owe their peculiar shapes

to the mildly acid waters of the Li River whose meandering course over aeons of time has corroded away their bases until only the rocky cores remain.

The Li is one of the cleanest rivers in China. A favourite spot for fishermen with their trained cormorants.

BIRDS SQUAWK The men, all called Huong, come from the same village. Now in their 70s and 80s, they've been fishermen all their lives. Before they release the birds, they tie a noose loosely around the neck to stop them swallowing any fish they may catch.

Chanting and dancing, the Huongs encourage their birds to take the plunge. Underwater, the cormorants' hunting instinct kicks in turning them into fish-seeking missiles.

RHYTHMIC DRUM MUSIC Working together, a good cormorant team

can catch a couple of dozen decent sized fish in a morning.

The birds return to the raft with their fish because they've been trained to do so. From the time it first hatched,

each of these cormorants has been reared to a life of obedience to its master. The birds are, in effect, slaves. But they're not stupid.

It's said that cormorants can keep a tally of the fish they catch, at least up to seven. So unless they get a reward now and then, they simply withdraw their labour. The fishermen, of course, keep the best fish for themselves.

The cormorants get the leftover tiddlers. With its collar removed, the bird can at last swallow its prize. Best of all, what it isn't meant to have. (Screams)

These days, competition from modern fishing techniques means the Huongs can't make a living from traditional cormorant fishing alone and this 1300-year-old tradition is now practised mostly to entertain tourists.

800 kilometres north of the Li River, the vast expanse of limestone hills terminates in what is perhaps south China's most dramatic mountain scenery internationally recognised as a world heritage site.

GENTLE CLASSICAL MUSIC Though it looks like a karst landscape, this fantastical terrain of soaring pinnacles and vertical gorges is actually carved from a type of sandstone.

Winding between Jiuzhaigou peaks, crystal clear mountain streams are home to what is perhaps China's strangest creature. This bizarre animal is a type of newt, the Chinese giant salamander. In China, it is known as the baby fish because when distressed, it makes a sound like a crying infant. It grows up to 1.5 metres long,

making it the world's largest amphibian. Under natural conditions, a giant salamander may live for decades

but like so many Chinese animals, it is considered delicious to eat. Despite being classed as a protected species, giant salamanders are still illegally sold for food and the baby fish is now rare and endangered in the wild. Fortunately, in a few areas like Jiuzhaigou,

giant salamanders still survive under strict official protection. The rivers of Jiuzhaigou flow north-east into the Jiangsu flood plain known as 'the land of fish and rice'. On an island in a lake in Anhui Province, a dragon is stirring. This is the ancestral home of China's largest and rarest reptile - a creature of mystery and legend. SQUEAKING Dragon eggs are greatly prized. These babies need to hatch out quick.

It would seem someone is on their trail.

For a helpless baby reptile imprisoned in a leathery membrane inside a chalky shell, the process of hatching is a titanic struggle.

And time is running out. It's taken two hours for the little dragon to get its head out of the egg. It needs to gather its strength now for one final massive push.

Free at last, the baby Chinese alligators instinctively head upwards towards the surface of the nest and the waiting outside world. But the visitors are not what they seem. (Speaks Chinese) Jer Shur Jun and her son live nearby. Shur has been caring for her local alligators for over 20 years so she had a fair idea when the eggs were likely to hatch. Back home, she's built a pond surrounded by netting to keep out predators where her charges will spend the next six months until they're big enough to fend for themselves. For the past 20 years, small-scale conservation projects like this are all that have kept China's 150 wild alligators from extinction. CALM ORIENTAL MUSIC

Just south of the alligator country, dawn breaks over a very different landscape. The 1800-metre high granite peaks of the Huangshan or Yellow Mountain. To the Chinese, Huangshan's pines epitomise the strength and resilience of nature. Some of these trees are thought to be over 1,000 years old. Below the granite peaks,

steep forested valleys shelter surprising inhabitants. Huangshan macaques, macaques of western China rare descendants of the Tibetan are unique to these mountain valleys official protection. where they enjoy strict spent in the treetops, After a morning for the shade of the valley. the troop is heading to escape the heat A chance for the grown-ups from a stream. and maybe pick up a lunch snack As in most monkey societies,

involves a lot of grooming. social contact for grown-ups Grooming is all very well have energy to burn. but young macaques MONKEYS SQUEAL Like so much monkey business, of playful rough-and-tumble what starts off as a bit soon begins to get out of hand.

has seen it all before. The alpha male He's not in the least bothered. But someone or something is watching with a less than friendly interest.

predator with a deadly bite. The Chinese moccasin is a ambush and most feared venomous snakes. This is one of China's largest

alongside these dangerous serpents But the monkeys have lived for thousands of years. INTENSE SQUEALING to warn each other They use this specific alarm call whenever a snake is spotted.

poses no threat to the monkeys, Once its cover is blown, the viper now safe in the treetops. And life soon returns to normal. the rice fields of southern China By late summer,

have turned to gold. to bring in the harvest. The time has come

Nowadays, modern high-yield strains of the rice lands are grown throughout much and reaped by combine harvesters. boosted by chemical fertilisers This is the great rice bowl of China, of the world's rice. producing a quarter

by the noisy machines Insects stirred up of red-rumped swallows, are snapped up by gangs who have fledged several weeks ago. including this year's youngsters This could be their last good feast south for the winter. before they head

is a distant memory. By November, the rice harvest

distinctly chilly Northern China is becoming relatively warm and welcoming. but the south is still of Poyang Lake, Across the vast expanse the birds are gathering.

migrants from northern Siberia. Tundra swans are long-distance the essence of natural beauty. To the Chinese, they symbolise SERENE CLASSICAL MUSIC

offers winter refuge The Poyang Lake Nature Reserve of a million birds to more than a quarter from more than 100 species

finest wildlife experiences. creating one of southern China's The last birds to arrive at Poyang the longest journey to get here. are those which have made of Siberia. All the way from the Arctic coast

known in China as the white crane, The Siberian crane, is seen as a symbol of good luck. almost the entire world population Each year, make a 9,000-kilometre round trip of these critically endangered birds to spend the winter at Poyang. of south China's unique animals Like the white cranes, many

and competition with people face pressure from exploitation over space and resources.

of anything, But if China is living proof is surprisingly resilient. it is that wildlife even the rarest creatures Given the right help, can return from the brink.

If we show the will, nature will find the way. Closed Captions by CSI .

CC

Good evening. New South Wales

rescuers have reached a man who

has been trapped in a cave for

2 days. The man was found in

the cave system in the southern

highlands this morning. Police

say the man in his forties had

been trapped since Friday night

pinned underneath a rock. In

going down a hole explore ing

that cave he's dislodged rather

large rocks which have fallen

down and trapped him. The man was seriously injured in

was seriously injured in the

collapse the a helicopter is on

standby to take him to hospital. The Federal

Government says predictions by

the insurance industry that up

to 1 million people will dump

private cover are loaded.

Treasury has estimated around

half a million people Will opt

out of private health insurance

sfol owing the changes to the

meds care levy in the budget.

The treasurer has rejected

fears an exodus of 1 million

people Will cost the

States. You would expect the

private industry to say

that. Wayne Swan says it is

about raise ing - not an issue

of public versus

private. Rescuers are being ham

perred by severe chafr shocks.

Survivors are still being

pulled from the rubble,

pulled from the rubble, rescue

efforts are continuing around

the clock. Aftershocks

registering more than five on

the Richter scale have caused

new land slides. There is

another danger as vast new

lakes building up behind rivers

blocked by land slides threaten

to burst their embankments. In

Burma, the country's ruling

Generals are continuing to

refuse entry to foreign relief

teams. More than 2 million

supplies and aid people are in need of basic

supplies and aid agencies

estimate that only about a

quarter of those have received

any aid. The US senator Edward

Kennedy is recovering in

hospital after suffering a

seizure. Doctors say the

senator was in no immediate

danger and tests have shown he

did not suffer a stroke. The

patriarch of the Kennedy clan

is the last surviving brother

of the President John F Kennedy

both and Robert Kennedy who were

both assassinated. The Royal

Family has celebrated another

wedding - the Queen's eldest

grandchild, Peter Phillips and

his Canadian bride, Autumn

Kelly have tied the knot at

Windsor castle chapel. The

Groom's the oblg son of

Princess Anne and captain Mark

Phillips. Taking a look at

tomorrow's national weather

picture. Cool southerlies will

reach Queensland's tropics.

Showers are forecast in

Showers are forecast in

Adelaide, and Hobart, a sunny

day in Sydney. That is the

latest from the ABC television

newsroom. For updates go to ABC

online or listen to radio news

bulletins on the hour. Enjoy

your evening's viewing. Goodnight.