Li river fishermen




The Li river in Guangxi province has long been home to the tradition of fishing with cormorant birds whereby local fishermen train and work with the birds for their livelihood in this predominantly agricultural landscape. Since the advent of mass tourism over the last couple of decades the area has seen a rapid development of towns and cities such as Yangshuo and Guilin as well as tourist infrastructure at villages along the river's course. This has brought both beneficial and detrimental effects as this huge swell in visitors impacts upon the lifestyles of those who live there as well as environmentally with a growing pollution threat to the water itself. Two brothers, Huang Chuan De and his younger sibling Huang Yue Chuang, have lived and worked on the river from their home village of Xing Ping since their childhood and have seen many great changes to the way they lead their lives. The two are amongst a rare breed on the river these days in that they are from a traditional fishing background having learned their skills as young boys and perfected the arts of bird handling and carpentry in order to sustain themselves and their families. The majority of the 'fishermen' on the river these days are only there to serve the tourist trade, to provide snapshots of a forgotten and dying art form and for evening shows in the main town of Yangshuo. They learned the basics of how to handle the birds purely in order to obtain work as the two expanded. The two brothers from Xing Ping are amongst no more than a handful of true fishermen whose lives have been and continue to be inextricably linked to the river throughout all the change that has been brought upon them.





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