Tides of Change— —Wild China Episode 6



Episode 6. Tides of Change
The final programme features China’s 14,500 km coastline, home to 700 million people. Despite decades of rapid urban development, it is still an important migration route for birds. Endangered red-crowned cranes depart their northern breeding grounds to overwinter at Yancheng salt marsh, the largest coastal wetland in China. Shedao Island is an important stopover on the migration route, but the resident Shedao Island pitvipers, stranded by rising sea levels, lie in ambush in the branches. A snake strikes a songbird, and another is filmed swallowing a kingfisher. All along the coast, traditional forms of cultivation allow wildlife and people to live side by side. Crops vary from seaweed and cockles in the north to prawns further south, allowing birds such as whooper swans and black-faced spoonbills to prosper. Kejia tea-growers and Hui’an women harvesting oysters are also shown. China’s rivers and seas are heavily polluted. Sewage and fertiliser washed into the Bohai Gulf cause plankton blooms, attracting jellyfish, which in China are a commercial catch. In the Yangtze estuary, the migrations of creatures such as Yangtze sturgeon and mitten crabs are being impeded by upstream dams. In the tropical South China Sea, where coral reefs are under threat, whale sharks are rare visitors. Other rare creatures filmed include Pere David’s deer and Chinese white dolphins. On Hainan island, macaques are shown jumping into a hotel swimming pool, epitomising the uneasy coexistence of wildlife and people in China, and the challenge of continuing its traditional harmonious relationship with nature.

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