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Tibetan herders and their wildlife friends on the plateau


Angsai Grand Canyon, located in Zadoi County of Yushu Xizang Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China's Qinghai Province, is situated in the headwaters of the Lancang River. 

Hailed as the "Valley of Big Cats," it is home to various wildlife beyond five precious wild feline species. 

Growing up in the canyon as a herdsman, Kunga has a natural attachment to the wildlife around him. Whenever locals come across injured wild animals, they send them to Kunga's home. His backyard is a haven for his wildlife friends. 

In December 2020, a black-necked crane was attacked by a bird of prey when flying across the canyon. The bird's wing was injured and it was unable to migrate to the warmer south. Staff at the protection station in Angsai Township asked Kunga whether he could take care of the bird. He gladly took the job.


"At first, the black-necked crane refused to eat or drink anything. I was very worried." recalled Kunga. He tried to feed it with fish but the crane would not accept it. After more than 10 days of attentive care, the bird's injuries gradually got better, and its mood also improved. The bird began to accept corn and fried noodles from its "nanny."  

Every morning, when Kunga brought food to the bird, it would flap its wings and run to him. The first thing that Kunga did after finishing a day's patrol in the canyon was to spend time with the black-necked crane. They became good friends, and the bird sometimes sang in front of him.

The bird stayed at his home for four to five months, until the spring came. At that time, the bird had almost recovered. Kunga brought it to the Longbao National Nature Reserve and sent it back to the wild where it belonged. 

Kunga with the camera. /CGTN
Kunga with the camera. /CGTN

Kunga with the camera. /CGTN

Jamyang Tashi with the camera. /CGTN
Jamyang Tashi with the camera. /CGTN

Jamyang Tashi with the camera. /CGTN

Since 2018, Kunga has used cameras to capture his wildlife friends that share the area with him. More and more herders like him have assumed a dual identity – that of both herders and photographers. His friend and colleague Jamyang Tashi is one of them.

"I used to take pictures of flowers, but have started to photograph animals upon the influence of other rangers." said Jamyang. 

In Sanjiangyuan National Park, there are more than 17,000 rangers like them. They may be the people closest to these magnificent creatures like snow leopards and black-necked cranes. They safeguard the land, rivers and animals in their hometown. 

(Cover image via CFP; Video provided by Kunga)

(If you have specific expertise and want to contribute, or if you have a topic of interest that you'd like to share with us, please email us at nature@cgtn.com.)

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