The last blog following Yuan Lei’s expedition of the Aerjin Mountain Reserve in China ended with Yuan and his team stocking up in the Akesai county for the long journey ahead. Here is what happened next….
Our team set off early the next morning in the direction of the Qinghai province, but first we had to climb the 4000m Dangjin mountain. We passed along the south fringe of the Chaidamu basin heading north towards the Aerjin mountains. Here we had another 4000m steep climb over Heidaban, after which we passed into the Heidaban valley for a much needed stop over.
In the Heidaban valley, we investigated four mines; two iron-ore mines and two plumbum(lead)-zinc ore mines. Only one of the plumbum-zinc ore mines still had people working in it. The other three mines were located 3500m high in the Heidaban valley.
After our inspection of the mines, we met a herdsman at the entrance to the valley near the Heidaban spring. His name was Duxingkan and he had over 700 goats grazing in the valley. He told us that he had been grazing his livestock in the valley for many years and that the Heidaban spring was a critical water source for his goats. This prompted us to take a water sample from this spring to assess its suitability as drinking water.
We then left the Heidaban valley and travelled east along the Aerjin Mountain to arrive at the Lapeiquan spring. After a quick break we set off again past the Narrow Valley Daban, to settle in Sanjiaotan.
During the trip from the Heidaban valley to Sanjiaotan we were lucky enough to observe 17 Kiangs and 12 goitred gazelles, however unfortunately these were the only wild animals we saw. We did see 61 wild Bactrian camel footprints near Narrow valley, 43 of them from adults and 18 from youngsters. We also found camel hair throughout our surveys at Kalatashitage, Huangyang Valley and the Akesai county, but most disappointingly no wild camels.
On the way back to Akesai, we met the director of Annanba village and made an appointment to interview him and to also set up some herdsman interviews.
Yuan Lei’s blog on his interview with the herdsman coming soon…