RELOCATING FROM ‘PARADISE’
Shepherds agree to leave their mountain retreat as the government attempts to lift them out of poverty with new housing
Every June and July, shepherds living in the village of Kraz Tasha at the foot of Muztage Peak on the Pamir Plateau in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region travel across deep valleys along the ancient Silk Road to a mountain retreat.
The Pamir Plateau, called Congling in ancient China, is 3,000 meters above sea level, but the shepherds’ “paradise” is at an altitude of 4,100 meters and is called or Summer Ranch.
After a 10-hour trek, the herdsmen arrive at their destination, where the green grass looks like a blanket on a hillside.
However, the fairyland has no electricity, no internet and no cellphone signal.
Most of the herdsmen have an annual income of less than 2,500 yuan ($375; 315 euros; £290). So, in order to alleviate their hardship, the local government decided that by 2020, all of the poverty-ridden households will be relocated to Aketao county.
There, they will be provided with free housing and vegetable greenhouses.
Although the villagers love their mountain retreat, they support the relocation decision.
“We have survived in a such a harsh environment. So we should be able to adapt when we come down from the mountains to a completely new life,” one 30-year-old villager says.
A group photo of the herdsmen at the summer ranch. For most of them, it is the first time they have been photographed.
Herdsmen walk along the trail of a steep gulf.