Tibetan 'wild man' scales new heights

Publish Time: 2019-12-26 Author: From: China Daily

An aerial view of a frozen lake in Qinghai province, which is home to the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers. [Photo/Xinhua]

Adventurer has recorded his solo exploits around Sanjiangyuan, photographing landscapes, plants and wildlife

XINING-Once again, Sa Karma came down from the mountains alone, scorched by the sun and in need of a shave and haircut.

If it wasn't for his enormous backpack, the wild-looking man would be unrecognizable to his fellow villagers.

Sa Karma has no fixed abode. The 29-year-old Tibetan herdsman is a wanderer, a native of Nangqian county where the Lancang River has its sources in Qinghai province.

For nine years, he has been trekking the streams that flow into the Lancang, which is known as the Mekong outside China, finding 273 uncharted water sources in the snow-capped mountains and glaciers.

He has also hiked and climbed up 862 mountains near his hometown, many of which had never been conquered by man.

"Pushing the limits of the human body makes me hover like an eagle, affording me a wonderful view of the magnificent mountains and rivers," Sa Karma said.

His name, meaning "earth and stars" and given to him by his father, evokes a romantic and adventurous spirit. It seems like his years alone in the mountains were his destiny.

Studying traditional thangka painting has also provided Sa Karma with a different aesthetic perspective. Unlike others who focus on modifying portraits and Buddha images, he is fascinated by the flowers, trees and wildlife which usually make up the background in artworks.

Yet the scenes captured on canvas pale in comparison to what Sa Karma saw during an expedition in 2010.

In the five years leading up to his journey, the Chinese government pumped more than 2.8 billion yuan ($401 million) into the ecological restoration of the once-degraded Sanjiangyuan area. Known as China's "water tower", it is home to the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers.

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