Wild China

Synopsis: An in-depth look at some of China's most impressive natural sites such as the ancient Han kingdom, the Mongol steppes, the Silk Road and the Tibetan Plateau.
Genre: Documentary
Actors: Bernard Hill
  3 wins.
60 min


The last hidden world,


For centuries, travellers to China have

told tales of magical landscapes

and surprising creatures.

Chinese civilisation

is the world's oldest

and today, its largest,

with well over a billion people.

It's home to more than

and a wide range

of traditional lifestyles,

often in close partnership with nature.

We know that China faces immense

social and environmental problems.

But there is great beauty here, too.

China is home to

the world's highest mountains,

vast deserts ranging from searing hot

to mind-numbing cold.

Steaming forests

harbouring rare creatures.

Grassy plains beneath vast horizons.

And rich tropical seas.

Now for the first time ever,

we can explore the whole

of this great country,

meet some of the surprising

and exotic creatures that live here

and consider the relationship

of the people and wildlife of China

to the remarkable landscape

in which they live.

This is Wild China.

Our exploration of China

begins in the warm, subtropical south.

On the Li River, fishermen and birds

perch on bamboo rafts,

a partnership that goes back

more than a thousand years.

This scenery is known

throughout the world,

a recurring motif in Chinese paintings.

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.


It rains here for up to 250 days a year,

and standing water is everywhere.


In the floodplain of the Yangtze River,

black-tailed godwits probe

the mud in search of worms.

But isn't just wildlife

that thrives in this environment.

The swampy ground

provides ideal conditions

for a remarkable member

of the grass family.


The Chinese have been cultivating rice

for at least 8,000 years.

It has transformed the landscape.

Late winter in southern Yunnan

is a busy time for local farmers

as they prepare the age-old paddy fields

ready for the coming spring.

These hill slopes of the Yuanyang County

plunge nearly 2,000 metres

to the floor of the Red River valley.

Each contains literally

thousands of stacked terraces

carved out by hand

using basic digging tools.

Yunnan's rice terraces are among

the oldest human structures in China.

Still ploughed,

as they always have been,

by domesticated water buffaloes,

whose ancestors originated

in these very valleys.

This man-made landscape

is one of the most

amazing engineering feats

of pre-industrial China.

It seems as if every square inch of land

has been pressed into cultivation.

As evening approaches,

an age-old ritual unfolds.

It's the mating season

and male paddy frogs are competing for

the attention of the females.

But it doesn't always pay to draw

too much attention to yourself.

The Chinese pond heron

is a pitiless predator.


Even in the middle

of a ploughed paddy field,

nature is red in beak and claw.

This may look like a slaughter

but as each heron can swallow

only one frog at a time,

the vast majority will escape

to croak another day.

Terraced paddies like those

of the Yuanyang County

are found across much of southern China.

This whole vast landscape is

dominated by rice cultivation.

In hilly Guizhou Province,

the Miao minority have developed

a remarkable rice culture.

With every inch of fertile land

given over to rice cultivation,

the Miao build their wooden houses

on the steepest

and least productive hillsides.

In Chinese rural life,

everything has a use.

Dried in the sun,

manure from the cow sheds

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Wild China" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 5 Mar. 2021. <https://www.scripts.com/script/wild_china_23470>.

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