Cormorant fishermen on bamboo rafts in the Li River near Guilin, China.
The fishermen that live near by The Li River is a group with a long and painful history of migration, spanning over 35 generations and 1,000 years. They share a common ancestor within the ethnic group; this tribe wandered along the Li River for thousands of years and essentially lived on the water, making their boats their homes. In the past, the living conditions of these house boats was very poor. They were without electric power and water, and sustained themselves and their families catching fish in the river and selling most of it at the local markets. When walking or boating along the river, you may see fishing done in the traditional manner with their cormorant birds or with their fishing nets. Based on official statistics, there were around a thousand fishermen along the Li River in 1989, until 1998 when China established the “Open to the World” policy and many foreign companies settled in the Yangtze River Delta. Consequently a large number of employment opportunities emerged in this area and many Li River fishermen were employed.
For thousands of years the Li River fishermen lived by the water, their fishing rafts, and river boat songs that are so familiar to the Guilin people. Together with the Li River scenery it almost makes up a landscape painting. Most Li River fishermen go by the surname Wong, and it is said that the Wong people's ancestors came from the Zhuji port through the South China Sea, via Luoding to Guangxi Lingchuan, and the harbor at Mao Village in Guilin.
Cormorant fishing has been a traditional lifestyle for the fishermen of the Li River in the past. If you walking around Yangshuo by the riverside after sunset, you can see the fishermen gather here for fishing on cormorant-perched, gas-lit bamboo rafts. Nowadays most parts of the Li River do not allow fishing due to the renewal of Lijiang's sustainable development. Thus, fewer fishermen today live on fishing, and the cormorant fishing is mostly a show for tourists. The cormorants ar