Cormorant Fishing – Guangxi, China

posted in: Interspecific | 0

“I read with interest, sometime ago, a BESG posting on this ancient method of fishing, a traditional practice used in China and Japan LINK. The technique of cormorant fishing goes back as far as 960 AD.

“The bird species used are: Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo in China and P. capillatus in Japan.

“Today, this old fishing method is used not only to attract tourists but also, in the more remote villages in China, as a simple and effective way of catching fish for one’s daily supper.

“Here is what I saw during my October 2012 visit to the Lijiang, a long river which courses through Guangxi Province in South China.

“Above: The ingredients seen is illustrative of the interrelatedness and interdependence of all things in our ecosystem. Nothing in Nature is egocentric. All together, they form our Web of Life, a global ‘live and let live’ system.

“The four cormorants are hatched from eggs, the birds are reared lovingly and trained by the owner to catch fish. They are put to work when they are ready.

“Above: The fisherman punts the bamboo raft to shallower water, not too far from the shore. A constricting rope ring is placed round the base of the bird’s long neck to prevent it from swallowing the caught fish. A selected bird is placed gently on the water. The bird dives and catches a fish.

“Above: The bird is lifted out of the water by the long bamboo pole and brought back to the raft.

“Above: The fisherman prises open the bird’s beak and gently squeezes the fish out and places it into a submerged net-bag hanging by the large basket.

“Above:: The exiting fish is swallowed head first. Unfortunately, I was not close enough to see the kind of freshwater fish found in the Lijiang. I can only say that it is darkish and very scaly. The good news is: for every seven fish caught by the cormorant, it is allowed to eat one fish! The fishing cycle continues with the selection of another trained cormorant…

“This encounter confirms a simple truth: Existence is not insular. Life is a fabric woven with many inseparable threads. The cycle of Life’s events goes on unceasingly, just like Lord Nataraja in his eternal Dance of Life and Death…”

K.F. Yap
Singapore
17th May 2013

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