Giving fish the bird in Guilin China

For thousands of years, men in southern China have utilised cormorants to fish for them in the rivers and lakes of the region.

They start with an egg that is ready to hatch and are there when the chick emerges. The fishermen nurture their young chicks and the birds imprint on the fishermen as if the men were their mother. When the bird is about a year old it is ready to go to work.

A choker is fitted to their neck so that they can’t swallow the fish. The cormorants are fed a meager diet of fish… one meal a day to keep them hungry. A well fed cormorant is lazy and won’t try hard to catch any fish.

Photo: Steve de Vroom

The fishermen take the birds out on a bamboo raft, using a bamboo pole as a punt. The raft is fitted with two kerosene lamps which attract the fish and the cormorants go to work, swimming under the water ahead of the raft searching for fish. When a fish is caught, the cormorant surfaces and jumps aboard the raft, or is hoisted on with the fisherman’s pole.

The fisherman then grabs the cormorant by the neck and removes the fish from its gullet and the cormorant goes back to search for another fish.

We joined a large cruising boat to watch a couple of fishermen working the river for half and hour. Thirty years ago, four cormorants would feed a fisherman and his family, but these days fish are more difficult to find.

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Please leave these two fields as-is:

Protected by Invisible Defender. Showed 403 to 268,920 bad guys.