Arjin: Tibetan Secret Land
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Arjin: Tibetan Secret Land

An expanse of desert at
an elevation of 4000 meters It looks almost like an enormous
sand dune floating on water It is a natural beauty created
by the harsh environment This is
the Arjin Mountain Nature Reserve The region is home to some of
the world’s most precious animals Herds of animals dash
across the desert The small animals here
do not fear man Some animals now considered to be
among the rarest in the world live here Nomads live side-by-side
with an unforgiving nature This footage reveals the mysteries of this
“golden” region hidden behind steep mountains Arjin:Tibetan Secret Land This is the Xinjiang Uighur
Autonomous Region, located in inland China In the summer of 2005,
a 1500km journey began from the central city of Urumqi The destination:
the Arjin Mountain Nature Reserve Li Xueliang is
the organizer of the trip He’s an adventure photographer who’s been capturing this vast
wilderness on film for 20 years This is the third day of the journey Up ahead, mountain ranges
are coming into view These are the Arjin mountains Arjin means gold in Uighur As the name suggests these mountains are known
for their gold mines Beyond these mountains lies
the Arjin Mountain Nature Reserve After driving through the first
mountain path, we come to a checkpoint To prevent the poaching of wild animals
and illegal gold mining a special permit
is required to go any further Four hours on the road and we finally
enter the Nature Reserve Mr. Li scans the great expanse
of the Nature Reserve from atop a hill This plateau is roughly 4000 meters
above sea level The size is about 45000 square meters The Arjin Mountain Nature Reserve lies at
the north end of China’s Tibetan Plateau With the Kunlun mountains to the south
and the Arjin mountains to the north the Reserve lies in a basin surrounded
by mountains 6000 meters high In summer, the towering mountains block
the monsoons from the south As a result, the humid monsoon air
does not reach the Arjin Mountain Reserve In winter, the fierce north winds bringing
winter snow hit the mountain ranges and then bound off toward
the east and the west The features of this land were shaped
by this unique climate Creating a wall on the eastern side of
the Nature Reserve are the Qimantage mountains These stark mountains consist of andesite
formed by volcanic activity Many oddly-shaped rock formations
encrust the plain The larger formations
are five meters high The stones have been carved into
these unique shapes over eons of time
by the harsh hand of nature The camera finally spots some animals
living in this unique natural environment This is a saker falcon Despite its cautious nature it doesn’t even bother flying away
at the sight of an approaching camera The other falcon standing nearby also displays no sign of fear toward humans Here comes a Tibetan fox One of the foxes
slowly approaches the camera Judging from its size, it looks like
it was just born this spring This is probably the first time
the fox has seen a human It seems very interested in the camera It comes within two meters
of Mr. Li and his camera Near a rocky cliff,
a strange plant is growing It’s a species of rock jasmine The flowers are densely packed together In order to retain as much water and heat as
possible,the flowers cling closely to the ground Here’s a plant with long hairs
growing on its leaves It’s a member of the lotus family
and is a very rare plant that has never been seen
outside this region covering the surface of the leaves not only retain water but also protect
the leaves against the strong sun This is another species of lotus In this region the temperature at night plunges to
sub-zero even in summer These plants
have a unique capacity to adapt to such great swings
in temperature Watch the surface of the leaves closely When the temperature drops, the plant brings
out most of the water it has accumulated This water then freezes By sending the water outside to
the surface before it freezes the plant is protecting its cells
from being destroyed During the daytime
when the temperature rises, the ice melts The water on the leaves
is then reabsorbed by the plant The plants in this region can
adapt to the extreme environment with its greatly
fluctuating temperatures and survive on very little water A herd of large animals
is spotted in the distance They are Tibetan wild asses There are about a hundred of them Such a large herd is rarely seen Tibetan wild asses are rare animals
found only on the Tibetan Plateau the Tibetan wild ass is listed in the top
category of protected animals in China This animal is much larger than
the domestic donkey and weighs up to 300kg With its strong, well-developed jaw it can eat plants that
are too hard for other animals to eat Two families are eating grass The mother ass is grazing
and the foal is asking for milk Female wild asses usually give birth to
one foal at the beginning of summer During the summer they eat large
amounts of grass and store it as fat This fat accounts for 10 percent
of their body weight They are preparing for the harsh winter,
knowing that food will then be scarce Closely observing the herd the crew notices that they display
an interesting behavior pattern When one veers one way,
the others follow The behavior is similar to how a school
of small fish moves together to appear like one large fish If one leaves the herd, it can be
attacked by predators such as wolves And so they synchronize their movements
to protect themselves from such enemies This is a vast land
at an altitude of 4000 meters And punctuating it is the sight of creatures
living in the often hostile environment The incessant changes in weather
are another feature of the region It’s raining hail The temperature, which had been close to 20
degrees Celsius until just a few moments ago The sudden changes in weather are
not the only thing that are of concern During the summer, rivers and mud lay traps
everywhere In the Nature Reserve Gold can sometimes be found in these rivers
that appear only during the summer months Up until 10 years ago,
people could be seen panning for gold but now such activity
is strictly restricted These rivers and this muddy terrain
paint wide swathes across the plain Why do these wetlands appear in such
a normally dry area with low precipitation? The water in the Nature Reserve
follows a cycle In summer, snow from
the surrounding mountains melts In addition, underground ice also melts
creating wetlands in the basin The water from the wetlands
evaporates to form clouds and then falls back down
to earth as rain The rainwater is eventually transformed
back into either snow or underground ice In that way, water in the Nature Reserve
basin follows a yearly cycle At the bottom of this vast basin
lies a lake This lake covers
an area of 536 square meters This desolate lake
displays no sign of life It’s salty! The water is concentrated saltwater The soil and rocks that fall into
the water contain salt With the water repeatedly evaporating,
the concentration of salt gradually increases As a result, the lake has become
a dead lake in which no creature can survive The altitude here is over 4000 meters Because of the low air pressure
and oxygen levels altitude sickness is a constant concern Oxygen tanks are a must The first groups of explorers entered
this harsh land at the end of the 19th century A European team of explorers led by Sven Hedin
conducted research in this area at that time However, without any major discoveries Arjin was eventually forgotten for almost a
century as an “inhospitable, barren land” Interest in this region
was renewed in the 1980s Research conducted by the Chinese
government revealed that the region contained
valuable plants and animals and an untouched natural environment
unique to the high plains This is Qimantage, the only settlement
in the Nature Reserve But this settlement
is comprised of only four people the local government employees and
an administrator of the Nature Reserve Although there are about 30 private houses
here, there are currently no residents After the Nature Reserve
was established in 1983 this settlement was once populated
by close to 400 people However, the government encouraged
the residents to move to other places in order to protect the wild animals Most of them now live in villages
at the foot of the mountains Today, there are only six families with a total
of 20 people living in all of the Nature Reserve We met one of the families They’re collecting
firewood for fuel This is Mr. Maimaidi,
a nomad He lives with his wife
and ten-year old son My wife and I
can’t read or write We want our son to learn Although they’re not particularly
unhappy with their life here they say they’re concerned about the future
of their son, who cannot go to school The sheep are owned
by the local government The nomads are required to increase
the number of their sheep by 35% every year Each household takes care of
between 500 to 800 sheep The nomads sometimes have to count
the sheep to make sure none is missing They can use a small area of
the Nature Reserve to let the sheep graze This is the house where the Maimaidi
family lives only during the summer Because grains and vegetables don’t
grow in the Nature Reserve, they have to get food
by selling sheep This family spends the five months
of summer here and in October, move to the pasture land
to spend the winter months Leaving the Maimaidis behind,
we head further into the Nature Reserve A desert suddenly looms up on the other
side of the river cutting through the basin This is the Kumukuli desert It almost looks
as if it’s floating on water This vast desert
is 75 km long and 35 km wide How can such a large desert lie
next to a bounty of water? The Kumukuli desert is known
as the highest desert in the world Walking on this soft sand
at a high altitude where oxygen levels are low is much
more exhausting than one can imagine A herd of animals is
seen on top of a sandy hill They are wild yaks, animals which
can only be found on the Tibetan Plateau Yaks live on grasslands
at an altitude of over 4000 meters Seeing them like this in the middle
of the desert is actually extremely rare After about two hours of walking, they
arrive at a huge basin filled with water It’s a large spring called Shaziquan Water is gushing out
from the sand slope The spring is 200 meters wide The gushing water creates
a stretch of river in the desert This river then flows into
the wetlands surrounding the desert This is a satellite image
of Kumukuli desert It shows large bodies of water in
and around the desert The source of this water is believed to be the Kunlun
Mountains, situated on the south side of the desert The snow accumulating on the over 6000-meter-high
mountains melts, seeps into the ground and very slowly meanders
toward the spring in the desert A few such springs exist in the Kumukuli desert,
creating these green waterlines Far up a sand hill,
a herd of yaks comes into view Such an enormous herd of close to 100 yaks is a sight rarely
seen outside this region When they are not drinking or grazing,
yaks stay in the desert Predators such as wolves do not chase
them all the way into the desert The desert is their shelter which is also near the water,
where they can find food This land, which ensures
their safety and food supply provides an environment
in which yaks can live in peace But why are deserts formed
on highlands such as these? We found a place that provides insights
into the formation of highland deserts This mountain is half-buried
in sand from its base Near the mountain’s summit,
where the temperature fluctuates wildly water inside the rocks
frequently freezes and then melts As a result, the rocks crack and after thousands of years,
dissolve into sand It’s believed that eventually the mountain itself
will crumble and become buried in the sand Because it hardly ever rains,
the sand simply accumulates In time, this mountain will also
disappear into the sand Next to the desert is
an extensive grassland created by the blessings of water These are black-lipped pikas They live on highlands 3000
to 5000 meters high They’re about 15cm long It’s now the breeding season
so these little rodents have a big appetite Suddenly a herd comes running
toward the grassland They’re an antelope species
called chirus The chirus is a rare,herbivorous animal
on the brink of extinction They have the finest hair in the world
and are called the king of wool Their fur can be used to make shawls even more delicate
than those made of cashmere and are as light as feathers At one time, a single shawl
could cost up to 15000 dollars Because of their demand, chirus were
the target of large-scale poaching and their numbers suddenly plummeted Males have long, straight horns Some say they served as
the model for the unicorn Here in Arjin, these rare chirus
can still be found The magnificent Arjin Mountain Nature Reserve,
a secluded world surrounded by steep mountains That summer, we encountered a few of
the world’s most endangered animal species December During this period,
no one enters the Nature Reserve as the temperature in the mountains
drops to 30 degrees below zero But deep inside the Nature Reserve,
there was no snow They met a nomad
pulling a donkey cart It’s Mr. Maimaidi,
the nomad we met during the summer Mr. Maimaidi is here to pick up
some ice from the river He’s loading blocks of ice that weigh
about 10kg each onto his donkey cart Apparently, once a week he comes to
this lake, 7km from his home During winter, the Maimaidis live in an area
30km south of where they live in summer This is Tayier,
their 10-year old son He looks like he’s grown a little The blocks of ice
are carried into the tent This is where they store them During the winter season, they don’t
have to worry about the ice melting To protect themselves from the strong winds and
cold weather, their house is built underground Their living space consists of a single room,
which is about 16 square meters and contains a stove Where’s the knife? I don’t know What do you mean you don’t know?
I gave it to you the other day The mother does not seem to be around Apparently, she went to a village 400km
away to give birth to a child She had a healthy baby girl
and will be back in two months When my sister comes home,
I want to play with her I can’t wait until she grows up
so we can talk together I want to get her to help out
around the house Today is a special day
for the nomads It’s the day of the Kurban Festival,
the most important festival of Islam The nomads arrive at a burial ground
at the foot of a mountain where the tombs are made of stones piled
on top of each other This is where
the nomads’ancestors rest The elder is reading
a passage from the Koran The nomads living on the plain have gathered
at the burial ground to offer prayers This festival is also
called the Feast of Sacrifice which calls on them
to sacrifice a sheep their only source of income After the ceremony
is conducted among only the men all the families gather for a feast For the first time in a long time,
they have all gotten together It would be great if we could
eat together like this every day Today, most of the nomads
have gathered here for the occasion At this festival,sharing the precious sheep
together,they think of themselves as one family Nomads living in
a harsh environment These are the people who have overcome
the many hardships of living in Arjin Snow has fallen
for the first time in a month A herd of yaks
is running across the snow With the coming of winter, the number of
yaks seems to have increased Shaziquan in winter, the temperature
is 10 degrees below zero Even so, not only does the spring not
freeze, but water is still gushing out The desert spring flowing
underground never freezes In the wetland near the spring,
dried grass is visible above the snow For herbivore animals, this grass is
a precious food source during winter The yaks that were in the sand hills
have also come in search of grass In summer, male and female yaks
break off into separate herds but in winter the males join the females
and form an enormous herd They must have felt the presence of humans,
suddenly take off and run back toward the desert For these animals, the desert
the desert is their year-round sanctuary Some Tibetan wild asses
are also grazing in the snow As usual, they have a big appetite The foals that were still suckling
six months ago in summer have now grown
and can eat hard, frozen grass A pair of large birds stands
in the grassland where there is little snow They are black-necked cranes With only about 5,000 of these cranes left
in the world, they’re an endangered species during this season, black-necked cranes would
be spending the winter down in the southern regions Why these two birds
have not migrated is not known but this grassland seems to be providing
enough of the blessings of nature to them Strong winds have abraded
the surface of the land and only clumps of plants
that have sunk deep roots remain Bones of a large animal
are scattered around It’s a dead yak There are at least
10 dead animals here It’s likely that during
the occasional snow storms some members of the herd lose their way
and eventually starve to death Even for animals such as yaks
that can adapt to life in the highlands surviving in such
a harsh environment is not easy The search is on for some chirus,
the rare animals spotted in the summer Moving about inside the Nature Reserve
is going better than expected This is because all the places that were
wet and muddy in summer are now frozen But due to bad road conditions,
the car’s leaf spring snaps With no parts to replace it,
a rope is used as a quick fix Our search for
chirus continues on foot We arrive at the grassland
where chirus are sometimes spotted In the distance there are
some animals that look like deer Have we found chirus? They are actually Tibetan gazelles Slightly smaller than chirus,
they are an antelope species The slowly depleting food and fuel supplies
allow for only a few more days of this trip At sunrise, the search for
the chirus begins A herd of animals is spotted far away They are chirus They’re male chirus
that have grown a winter coat The area from their shoulders to
their heads is covered with white fur The chirus have started
their breeding season Males and females have
separated into different herds A pre-breeding fight between males
is taking place They try to intimidate each other
with their long horns They’re fighting to
determine the strongest male The male that eventually wins is
the only one allowed to join the female herd The female herd is waiting nearby One male has joined this herd In order to produce offspring, the male tries
frantically to find an ovulating female It eventually catches
the scent of a female in heat Very few people have ever witnessed
the behavior of chirus in their breeding season Here on this grassland
in the vast Nature Reserve an environment still remains allowing
the chirus to follow their natural instincts This inhospitable and
harsh environment of Arjin may perhaps be the best environment for
the chirus, which are on the brink of extinction The Arjin Mountain Nature Reserve This exceptional nature is heaven on earth
for these remaining precious animals True to its name, Arjin is
the “golden land” for all living here


  • Bong Merced

    Very touching documentary of unique rich culture , left behind by civilization . This nomad lived in a very harsh inviroment where they have to move during windy winter and move back to dessert during summer . Under ground streams provide by nature . Pregnant women travel 400 km to nearest hospital to give birth , I think this is old vedeo taken in the late 70 's .
    there are changes now putting train tracks to help tibitans social economic and humanitarian assistance

  • Lucinda Writes

    once more China truly comes through, they have a good mind protecting sacred animals, no one will ever again talk about animals without fear living in happiness, great video

  • Joseph Louis

    China, get out of Tibet. You, Xi Zhinping the leaders of China and your associates are thieves. You were welcomed in Tibet by our forefathers but you killed them, took their land and space and you spat in the face of their children. Do not think that God forgot your crimes against humanity. In the end, you will not get away with murder. The Eternal remembers how you invaded Tibet and opressed their people for ideology, thinking that you are better than the TIbetans. God doesn't like people who elevate themselves above their brothers and sisters in order to enslave them and make them work for your benefit at no cost. You are going down China because you refused to repent and admit your errors. Get out of Tibet ASAP, maybe God will aleviate the sentence over the ones who leave Tibet and admit thgey colonized this country of peaceful people. Free Tibet !

  • Judith Jongewaard

    Please, the high pitched music is too loud and hurts my ears. Why do so many videos on YouTube have loud music and soft voices? Please fix it permanently!

  • Raymond Peter D'Souza


  • Paul Deland

    Exceptional documentary. Amazing beauty & fascinating information about the rare plants & animals in this remote region.

  • Terri Smith

    The land of Arjin is beautiful. It's a shame that humans cannot keep from destroying every animal in every corner of the entire earth. Even these precious antelope, the chirus, are on the brink of extinction due to poaching. It makes me cry.

  • Footshot Neill

    very well put together , worthy of BBc wildlife team
    what an ecologically beautiful inspiring desolate hellhole to live in

  • Marleen Neil

    One of the best documentaries shot by Mr Lee and his crew. Keep making them please. The scenery is stunning. Thank you so very much.

  • Happy Dappy

    Communist chinese government digging all mountain and mining for precious minerals and destroy all life , they do at night time so that no once can see or cannot track from satellite, so chinese digging all work at night time and load truck ,lot of truck and take somewhere that no one know,

  • Karen Contestabile

    Everything in this video is rare according to narrator, but lots of shots of these rareties abound…

  • Philip Dawes

    Sadly, China invaded defenseless Tibet in 1949, rampaging through the towns and Buddhist monasteries, slaughtering ordinary Tibetans, including monks and nuns. Their objective was a wholesale takeover of Tibet and theft of all Tibet's natural resources. China has swamped Tibet with mainland Chinese citizens and military and continues to murder and imprison Tibetans in the 21st century. There is no freedom for the Tibetan people. This is a very dark episode of China's modern development and shall never be forgotten.

  • Carrie Beckett

    I'm only at 5:52 and already find a disturbing comment. He stated that the features were caused by natures "harsh" hand over "eons". If it's taken taken eons to carve out the landscape then natures hand is MUCH softer than mans!
    The next statement I disagree with is at 18:18 where he said that the government "encouraged" the residents to leave, it's more likely that they were forced to leave.
    Now at 19:56 we're told that they don't own the sheep and they're forced to increase the stock by 30%! That's simply unreasonable and unrealistic! This is crazy! I'm so happy I live in a free society! I just can't watch this any longer!

  • John Court

    Tibet was a cess pit before the Chinese arrived. In Lhasa public toilets were overflowing with predictable results.
    It appears that no one wanted the job of cleaning them.
    There was no way that anyone adhering to the absurd doctrine of reincarnation would allow themselves to be so designated.
    Filthy Kathmandu is the same.
    So much for the land of Buddha.
    Imagine, filthy Tibet had to be cleaned up by a secular government, that is how bad it was.
    Thank you China.

  • goognam goognws

    Yes, but this is not China. Chinese are an invader to that land. Tibet is a sovereign country violently and illegitimally occupied by China since 1950. Be aware that hundreds comments below are written by chinese 50c internet army.

  • shiek rabbani


  • Sunil Lazar


  • beligalle dhammajoti

    Beautiful Tibet. Wonderful Tibet. Blessed by the deities! Sacred Land of the world. Live long Tibet! Mental solace from Tibetan mountains.

  • Michael Boyd

    You look in the,worth palace look at JUPITER and Saturn thin West THE winastes um tow China it up above you are goin to be HIT by the midera
    By a portal that in this monton and watter is in the caves but THE coumeat is above you are goin see a gargoel and chubion in the FLIGHT to the eage of the top five caves and in the 4th cave is watter

  • MichSignMan

    If you were wondering what they blurred out at 36:00 … the words to the song "We will eat the tongue, give our wives the anusssss, We will eat the tongue, and our wives will eat the ringgggg" o.O

  • Mariusz Fidzinski

    Natural Reserve guarded by Chinese Military… sounds interesting… is it the same in Russia, US, Brasil???

  • Allen Colvin

    The people living there honor their dead ancestors and share a sheep together rather than kill one another over politics or religion

  • Martha Cain

    All life has an inner memory of the creator~maker of us all, a mark of survival, etched in it's artistry of cell & serum ; bone & blood, Serpensliber~you & me…

  • konasteph

    The size of Arjin Nature Reserve is not what the video says. This video says 35000 sqmeters which is 3.5 hectares, which is 8.65 acres. That cannot be right, agreed? The reserve is MUCH bigger than that. The lake is what size 536 square meters??? Something got lost in the translation it seems! I think the authors of this video should definitely correct the area sizes, they are wrong and it is important to get that right. Otherwise the video is very interesting. Also one plant with yellow flowers is supposedly within the lotus family. The flower shown however, is definitely a legume, and not a lotus which belongs to the water lilies, and has a very different characteristic of flowers.The video is otherwise wonderful, but facts should be correct facts. Thank you!

  • Dharshana W

    when one views that way, the others tend to think the other way.
    Typical of Sri Lankans, and specifically almost middle class Sri Lankans who think they are rich.
    This fallacy is one of the most basic erroneous judgments You have made.

    Cheers Mates,

    Dharshana W

  • Gerry Jones

    The land and the animals are beautiful but I didn't know these people that live there were Muslims so I'm giving it a thumbs down because I don't like Muslims from what I'm here about them especially over here evil people they don't believe in our Lord Jesus Christ

  • Ram Tripathi

    Hey Googna,

    US, Canada, Australia and many other countries are invaded by Western countries. China can invade too if its powerful enough. So can India. Nature is such stronger eats the weaker. Real justice doesn't exiest. Sad but truth haha

  • STEVE Clark

    That image at time marker 5:15 is what we call dust devil here in south central Kansas ! Which is really more like a dust tornado !

  • STEVE Clark

    I will come back to watch the rest later this evening ! Thank you for sharing this interesting place with me as I may never get to see it in person ! Since I live in the United States of America almost in the center of it at that !

  • Sunil Nair

    Fuck off!! Isn't that fucking simple?

    I don't like you. I fucking love being alone. I don't need side kicks. I don't need worthless pimps or whores or anybody for that matter. Fucking thing is that you don't know shit. This ain't political or whatever you think mumbo jumbo is.

    So fuck off from my phone.

  • willyD200

    The need,the greed and want for money destroys everything on this planet . I wonder when societies will figure this out and revoke the need, the use of money ?

  • Rocรญo Aguilera

    It's extremely necessary to protect that fauna. Not being afraid of humans is dangerous for them. Fortunately, the yaks fear humans. Curiously, the nomads respect women, even though they're Muslim. An excellent produced documentary surprisingly made by JAPANESE!!! LOL

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