[00:02.44]NARRATOR: Beneath billowing clouds,
[00:04.40]in China's far south-western Yunnan Province,
[00:08.16]lies a place of mystery and legend,
[00:16.28]of mighty rivers and some of the oldest jungles in the world.
[00:22.40]Here, hidden valleys nurture strange and unique creatures
[00:30.12]and colourful tribal cultures.
[00:38.48]Jungles are rarely found this far north of the tropics.
[00:47.60]So why do they thrive here?
[00:51.44]And how has this rugged landscape
[00:53.44]come to harbour the greatest natural wealth in all China?
[01:38.88]In the remote southwest corner of China a celebration is about to take place.
[01:52.80]Dai people collect water for the most important festival of their year.
[02:07.44]The Dai call themselves the people of the water.
[02:12.88]Yunnan's river valleys have been their home for over 2,000 years.
[02:27.08]By bringing the river water to the temple,
[02:29.84]they honour the two things holiest to them,
[02:33.48]Buddhism and their home.
[02:53.12]The Dai give thanks for the rivers and fertile lands
[02:56.40]which have nurtured their culture.
[03:07.20]Though to some, it might seem just an excuse
[03:10.20]for the biggest water fight of all time.
[03:26.56]Dai lives are changing as towns get bigger and modernise
[03:31.24]but the Water Splashing Festival is still celebrated by all.
[03:51.24]The rivers which lie at the heart of Dai life and culture
[03:54.20]flow from the distant mountains of Tibet,
[03:56.84]southward through central Yunnan in great parallel gorges.
[04:03.08]The Dai now live in the borders of tropical Vietnam and Laos
[04:08.08]but their legends tell of how their ancestors came here
[04:11.08]by following the rivers from mountain lands in the cold far north.
[04:18.44]Lying at the far eastern end of the Himalayas,
[04:21.48]the Hengduan Mountains form Yunnan's northern border with Tibet.
[04:29.12]Kawakarpo, crown of the Hengduan range, is a site of holy pilgrimage.
[04:35.32]Yet its formidable peak remains unconquered.
[04:45.28]Yunnan's mountains are remote, rugged and inaccessible.
[04:59.36]Here the air is thin
[05:01.16]and temperatures can drop below minus 40 degrees.
[05:07.04]This is home to an animal that's found nowhere else on earth.
[05:14.40]The Yunnan snub-nosed monkey.
[05:28.28]It's found only in these few isolated mountain forests.
[05:32.28]No other primate lives at such high altitudes,
[05:36.52]but these are true specialists.
[05:51.72]These ancient mountain dwellers have inspired legends.
[05:56.28]Local Lisu people consider them their ancestors,
[05:59.24]calling them the wild men of the mountains.
[06:08.80]During heavy snowfalls even these specialists cannot feed.
[06:14.76]It seems a strange place for a monkey.
[06:24.24]Between snows, the monkeys waste no time in their search for food.
[06:33.48]At this altitude there are few fruits or tender leaves to eat.
[06:39.52]Ninety percent of their diet
[06:41.28]is made up of the fine dry wisps of a curious organism.
[06:52.92]Half fungus, half plant, it's lichen.
[06:59.80]How have monkeys, normally associated with lowland jungle,
[07:04.28]come to live such a remote mountain existence?
[07:13.44]This is not the only remarkable animal found within these isolated high peaks.
[07:27.44]A Chinese red panda.
[07:30.20]Solitary and quiet, it spends much of its time in the tree tops.
[07:47.76]Despite its name,
[07:49.24]the red panda is only a very distant relative of the giant panda.
[07:53.72]It is actually more closely related to a skunk.
[08:06.76]But it does share the giant panda's taste for bamboo.
[08:14.32]Southwest China's red pandas are known for their very strong facial markings
[08:19.32]which distinguish them from red pandas found anywhere else in the Himalayas.
[08:31.68]Like the monkeys, they were isolated in these high forests
[08:35.20]when the mountains quite literally rose beneath them
[08:38.08]in the greatest mountain-building event in recent geological history.
[08:45.84]Over the last 30 million years,
[08:48.40]the Indian subcontinent has been pushing northwards into Eurasia.
[08:53.84]On the border between India and Tibet,
[08:56.28]the rocks have been raised eight kilometres above sea level
[09:00.24]creating the world's highest mountain range, the Himalayas.
[09:06.36]But to the east
[09:07.84]the rocks have buckled into a series of steep north-south ridges,
[09:12.32]cutting down through the heart of Yunnan,
[09:15.20]the parallel mountains of the Hengduan Shan.
[09:29.24]These natural barriers serve to isolate Yunnan's plants and animals
[09:33.80]in each adjacent valley.
[09:40.84]While the huge temperature range between the snowy peaks
[09:44.00]and the warmer slopes below
[09:46.32]provides a vast array of conditions for life to thrive.
[09:56.36]the Hengduan slopes stage one of China's greatest natural spectacles.
[10:03.16]The forests here are among the most diverse botanical areas in the world.
[10:35.04]Over 18,000 plant species grow here of which 3,000 are found nowhere else.
[10:48.20]Until little more than a century ago, this place was unknown outside China.
[10:55.72]But then news reached the West
[10:57.52]of a mysterious, hidden world of the Orient.
[11:02.16]Hidden among the mountains, a lost Shangri-la paradise.
[11:09.04]Western high society, in the grip of a gardening craze,
[11:12.48]was eager for exotic species from faraway places.
[11:18.72]This gave rise to a new breed of celebrity adventurers,
[11:23.68]intrepid botanist-explorers known as the Plant Hunters.
[11:31.80]Yunnan became their Holy Grail.
[11:36.28]The most famous was Joseph Rock, a real life Indiana Jones.
[11:44.04]Remarkable film footage
[11:45.72]captured his entourage on a series of expeditions
[11:49.08]as they pushed into the deepest corners of Yunnan.
[11:56.36]In glorious colour he recorded the plant life he found
[11:59.36]on special photographic glass plates.
[12:04.52]Sending thousands of specimens back to the West,
[12:07.60]the Plant Hunters changed the gardens of the world forever.
[12:15.12]Rock's success was born of a massive effort.
[12:18.80]For to find his Shangri-la,
[12:21.00]not only had he to traverse endless mountain ranges,
[12:25.00]but some of the deepest gorges in the world.
[12:33.80]The Nujiang is called the Angry River.
[12:37.44]This 300-kilometre stretch of raging rapids
[12:40.88]is as much a barrier to life as are the mountains above.
[12:53.40]But the Plant Hunters weren't the first people to travel here.
[13:34.24]Along the Nujiang,
[13:36.04]less than 30 rope crossings allow locals passage across the torrents.
[13:43.96]Tiny hamlets cling to the slopes.
[13:48.00]This morning it's market day,
[13:50.72]drawing people from up and down the valley.
[14:11.44]Hanging from simple rope slings,
[14:13.84]people have been using the crossings for many hundreds of years.
[14:21.88]In such narrow precipitous gorges,
[14:24.36]it's by far the easiest way to get around.
[14:36.92]Once across, the steep sides mean it's still a hike.
[14:41.40]Many trek for hours by foot before they get to the market.
[14:49.36]The immense valley is home to over a dozen ethnic groups.
[14:53.36]Some, like the Nu people, are found only here.
[15:02.12]The markets bring the mountain tribes together.
[15:23.32]To continue his expeditions,
[15:25.48]Rock had to get his entire entourage across the giant Yunnan rivers.
[15:30.44]He commissioned especially thick ropes made from forest rattan
[15:34.64]and filmed the entire event.
[15:39.04]With yak butter to smooth the ride, 40 men and 15 mules made the journey.
[15:45.36]Not all made it across.
[15:51.64]On the far side of the great Nujiang gorge,
[15:54.68]the Plant Hunters made a remarkable discovery.
[16:01.48]Far from the tropics,
[16:03.24]they seemed to be entering a steamy vibrant tropical jungle,
[16:07.84]the forest of Gaoligongshan.
[16:18.36]The flora here is unlike anywhere else in the world.
[16:22.88]Next to subtropical species, alpine plants grow in giant form.
[16:28.68]Crowning the canopy, rhododendrons, up to 30 metres high.
[16:40.70]In April and May their flowers turn the forests ruby red,
[16:45.58]attracting bird species found only here.
[17:00.22]Constant moisture in the air
[17:01.74]means that the branches are laden with flowering epiphytes,
[17:05.54]fiercely guarded by tiny sunbirds unique to these valleys.
[17:15.06]these are the hummingbirds of the Old World tropics.
[17:31.22]The forests of Gaoligongshan are home to some of China's rarest wildlife.
[17:49.02]This is a female Temminck's Tragopan.
[17:52.42]She has a colourful male admirer.
[18:24.46]He's hoping to woo her with his peculiar peek-a-boo display
[18:28.82]but she's not about to be rushed.
[18:48.46]His colourful skin wattle reflects more light than feathers do.
[18:52.22]To her, this is like a neon sign.
[19:02.90]Seeing his chance, the male makes his move.
[19:10.70]Constant moisture in the Gaoligongshan forests
[19:13.42]means that throughout the year there are always fruits on the trees.
[19:19.10]Such abundance of food encourages a high diversity of fruit eaters
[19:23.14]more commonly found in the tropics.
[19:28.46]The black giant squirrel is found only in undisturbed rainforest.
[19:33.14]At close to a metre in length,
[19:35.18]it's one of the world's largest squirrels.
[19:44.90]The mystery is that these forests are growing well outside the tropics.
[19:52.58]By rights, none of this jungle, or its animals, should be here.
[20:09.30]These are bear macaques.
[20:13.98]They are found only in tropical and sub-tropical jungle.
[20:28.42]With a tiny home range of just a few square kilometres,
[20:32.62]they depend on the abundant fruit
[20:34.94]that only true rainforests can provide all year round.
[20:46.38]To the European Plant Hunters, these northern rainforests
[20:50.42]must have seemed a fantastic and mysterious lost world.
[20:58.34]Yet when they came here,
[21:00.66]they would have found beautifully constructed ancient stone pathways
[21:05.30]on which the forest could be explored.
[21:17.46]Winding westwards into the hills,
[21:20.26]these were once some of the most important highways in Asia,
[21:24.70]the south-western tea and silk road.
[21:32.54]Built thousands of years ago, the south-western tea and silk road
[21:36.42]gave access to the world beyond China's borders,
[21:40.94]carrying tradesmen and travellers from as far away as Rome.
[21:54.42]Wars were fought over access to this tiny path,
[21:58.22]the only sure route in or out of China
[22:00.98]that was guaranteed to be clear of snow all year round.
[22:09.86]So what causes Gaoligongshan's strange and remarkable climate?
[22:16.86]In late May gusts of wind arrive,
[22:20.06]bringing with them the key to Gaoligongshan's mystery.
[22:26.22]The winds are hot and saturated with water.
[22:29.78]They come all the way from the Indian Ocean.
[22:35.18]Channelled by Yunnan's unique geography,
[22:37.98]they bring with them the moisture of the tropical monsoon.
[22:45.86]The giant river valleys, created millions of years ago,
[22:49.50]act like immense funnels.
[22:52.98]The gorges are so deep and narrow
[22:54.78]that the moist warm air is driven right up into the north of Yunnan.
[23:01.14]The result is rain, in torrents!
[23:47.74]Four months of daily rainstorms sustain luxuriant vegetation.
[23:56.50]The arrival of the monsoon awakens
[23:58.62]one of the forest's most extraordinary moisture-loving inhabitants.
[24:15.50]The crocodile newt is one of the most unusual
[24:18.46]of the many amphibian species found here.
[24:30.34]As the rains arrive, they emerge to mate.
[24:48.46]The newts are said to leave an odour trail
[24:50.66]that potential mates can follow.
[24:55.58]The crocodile newt gets its name from the bumps along its back.
[25:00.50]These are its defence.
[25:05.38]If grabbed by a potential predator,
[25:09.02]the tips of its ribs squeeze a deadly poison from the bumps.
[25:23.14]The deluge wakes another forest inhabitant.
[25:34.30]This one is particularly astounding in its vigour.
[25:53.14]It can grow up to a metre a day,
[25:56.22]fast overtaking the other plants around it.
[26:07.90]The taller it grows, the faster its growth rate,
[26:12.34]so that in a matter of days it towers above the undergrowth
[26:15.78]and continues reaching for the sky.
[26:22.58]Not bad for what is essentially a grass.
[26:45.66]Given the chance, bamboo will create immense forests,
[26:49.58]dominating entire areas.
[26:54.42]Bamboo forests occur across southwest China,
[26:57.70]all the way to Shanghai.
[27:02.10]But probably the highest diversity of bamboos in the world
[27:05.78]is found on the hills and valleys of Yunnan.
[27:16.34]Though incredibly strong, bamboos have hollow stems,
[27:20.14]a perfect shelter for any creatures which can find a way in.
[27:27.26]This entrance hole was made by a beetle,
[27:30.70]but it's being used by a very different animal.
[27:42.58]A bamboo bat.
[27:44.10]The size of a bumble bee,
[27:46.06]it's one of the tiniest mammals in the world.
[27:53.74]The entire colony, up to 25 bats,
[27:57.22]fits into a single section of bamboo stem,
[28:01.10]smaller than a tea cup.
[28:04.02]It's quite a squeeze.
[28:08.38]Half the colony are babies.
[28:10.30]Though barely a week old,
[28:11.90]they're already almost as big as their mums.
[28:18.18]Feeding such a fast-growing brood is hard work.
[28:21.70]The mums leave to hunt just after dusk each night.
[29:04.74]Back in the roost the young are left on their own.
[29:09.30]Special pads on their wings help them to grip on the bamboo walls,
[29:13.86]most of the time.
[29:18.82]The young bats use the extra space
[29:20.70]to prepare for a life on the wing by preening and stretching.
[29:32.38]Packed in like sardines,
[29:34.66]they would make an easy target for a snake.
[29:59.98]But the snake has no chance of getting in.
[30:03.42]The entrance is thinner than the width of a pencil.
[30:16.42]When the mothers return,
[30:18.18]they can push through the narrow entrance
[30:20.82]only because of their unusually flattened skulls.
[30:28.94]But it's still a squeeze.
[30:40.82]Bamboos are exploited in a very different way
[30:43.50]by another forest dweller.
[30:58.78]Fresh bamboo shoots are an important forest crop.
[31:09.46]Ai Lao Xiang is of the Hani tribe, from the mountain village of Mengsong.
[31:25.94]Roasted, the tender shoots he gathers will make a tasty dish.
[31:37.50]The Hani have many uses
[31:39.18]for the different bamboos they grow and find in the forest around.
[31:46.82]Though flexible enough to be woven,
[31:49.06]bamboo has a higher tensile strength than steel.
[31:53.78]Succulent when young, in maturity it's tough and durable,
[31:58.74]ideal for making a table,
[32:02.18]and strong enough for a pipe to last a lifetime.
[32:13.18]The people of southwest China have found an extraordinary number of ways
[32:17.06]to exploit this most versatile of plants.
[32:52.14]Part of bamboo's phenomenal success
[32:54.86]is that it's so tough that few animals can tackle it.
[33:00.62]Yet bamboo does come under attack.
[33:26.14]A bamboo rat.
[33:29.86]Feeding almost exclusively on bamboo,
[33:32.70]they live their entire lives in tunnels beneath the forest.
[33:39.74]The thinner species of bamboo are easier to attack and pull below.
[33:49.70]She has a fantastic sense of smell
[33:52.38]and can sniff out the fresh growth through the soil.
[33:59.62]Bamboo spreads along underground stems.
[34:04.78]By following these, new shoots are found.
[34:10.42]Once a shoot is detected,
[34:12.58]she snips it free and drags it down into her burrow.
[34:22.30]This female has a family.
[34:24.46]At just a few weeks old,
[34:26.22]the youngsters can already tackle the hardest bamboo stems
[34:29.86]and are eager to try.
[34:53.06]Bamboo's tough reputation is such that another bamboo specialist
[34:57.34]was known by the Chinese as the iron eating animal.
[35:08.18]The giant panda is famous for its exclusive diet.
[35:20.26]Giant pandas are thought to have originated in southwest China
[35:23.70]millions of years ago,
[35:26.26]but they're no longer found in Yunnan.
[35:31.82]Recently, their specialised diet has had dire consequences.
[35:40.58]Bamboo has a bizarre life cycle.
[35:45.30]sometimes only once every hundred years or so.
[35:50.34]But when flowering does occur, it's on a massive scale,
[35:54.98]and is followed by the death of all of the plants.
[36:01.54]Sometimes an entire bamboo forest may die.
[36:11.82]In undisturbed habitat, pandas simply move to another area
[36:16.30]where a different bamboo species grows.
[36:23.58]But as human activity has fragmented their forest home,
[36:27.58]pandas find it increasingly hard to find large enough areas in which to survive.
[36:34.22]Wild pandas are now found only in the forests of central China,
[36:38.78]far to the east.
[36:45.46]But in the hidden pockets of lowland jungle
[36:47.78]in Yunnan's tropical south,
[36:49.94]live one of China's best-kept wildlife secrets.
[37:13.54]The wild Asian elephant.
[37:19.82]Elephants once roamed across China as far north as Beijing.
[37:24.82]But it's only in the hidden valleys of Yunnan that they have survived.
[37:42.98]Elephants are the architects of the forest.
[37:46.10]Bamboos and grasses are their favourite food,
[37:48.90]but saplings, tree leaves and twisted lianas
[37:52.34]are all taken, with little care.
[38:07.34]As they move through the forest,
[38:09.18]the elephants open up clearings, bringing light to the forest floor.
[38:18.38]This has a major impact on their home.
[38:38.42]The richest forests are now known to be those
[38:40.94]which, from time to time, experience change.
[38:57.26]The Jino people are incredibly knowledgeable about their forests
[39:01.42]and claim to have uses for most of the plants that they find there.
[39:10.34]They have names for them all, those good for eating
[39:14.34]and some which even have strong medicinal qualities.
[39:20.42]By working here,
[39:21.94]the Jino play a similar role to the elephants,
[39:25.90]opening up the forest, bringing space, light and diversity.
[39:34.54]Green fast-growing species are encouraged.
[39:37.42]Insects are in high abundance here,
[39:39.94]together with the animals that feed on them.
[39:47.58]Knowledge of the forest enables the Jino to find not just plants
[39:52.06]but other tasty forest food too.
[39:58.38]Forest crabs are common here, feeding on the abundant leaf litter.
[40:03.38]This will be a tasty addition to the evening meal.
[40:15.50]Flowing through Yunnan's southern valleys,
[40:18.10]the once angry rivers are now swollen,
[40:21.98]their waters slow and warm.
[40:27.98]These fertile lowland valleys are the home of the Dai.
[40:36.94]The people of the water live along streams
[40:39.78]which originate in the surrounding hills.
[40:51.54]Each family keeps a kitchen garden,
[40:54.38]modelled on the multi-layered structure of the surrounding forests,
[40:58.06]which the Dai hold sacred.
[41:08.70]The gardens are made more productive by interplanting different crops.
[41:13.78]Tall sun-loving species give shelter to plants which thrive in the shade.
[41:21.86]As companions, the plants grow better.
[41:34.78]Yunnan's forests are home to more than a dozen wild banana species
[41:39.22]and banana crops grow well in most Dai gardens.
[41:46.30]The huge banana flowers are rich in nectar
[41:48.98]for only two hours a day,
[41:52.02]but it's enough to attract a range of forest insects,
[42:00.46]With their razor sharp mandibles,
[42:02.30]they find it easy to rob the flowers of their nectar.
[42:07.30]But hornets are predators, too.
[42:10.50]They hunt other insects and carry them back to their nest.
[42:19.74]An ideal target.
[42:21.98]But this grasshopper is no easy meal.
[42:25.78]There may be a price to pay.
[42:32.18]The Dai men, Po and Xue Ming, take advantage of a hunter's instincts.
[42:51.94]A hornet sting is agony,
[42:54.86]but for now it's distracted,
[42:57.66]intent on cutting away a piece of grasshopper
[43:00.62]small enough to carry back home.
[43:16.90]The white feather hardly slows the hornet,
[43:20.30]and more importantly, it can be seen.
[43:26.38]Now the hunter is the hunted.
[43:31.38]So long as Po and Xue Ming can keep up.
[43:55.26]Back at the nest,
[43:56.82]the other hornets immediately begin to cut the feather free.
[44:01.86]But it's too late, the nest's location has been betrayed.
[44:20.66]The relationship between the forest animals
[44:22.70]and the people who live here was never one of harmony.
[44:32.74]Yet the fact that the Dai and other ethnic groups
[44:35.22]considered these forests to be sacred, has ensured their survival,
[44:39.78]and now many have been given extra protection as nature reserves.
[44:54.14]Ingenuity and hard work pays off at last.
[44:58.18]The fattened larvae are considered a delicacy by the Dai.
[45:10.38]Although these forests have experienced a great deal of change,
[45:14.62]they are still host to some ancient and incredible relationships.
[45:23.22]Almost 60 centimetres high,
[45:25.66]this is the immense flower of the elephant yam.
[45:31.26]Locals call it the witch of the forest.
[45:42.06]As the stars rise, the witch begins to cast her spell.
[45:50.82]The forest temperature drops, but the flower starts to heat up.
[46:02.10]A heat sensitive camera reveals the flower's temperature rising
[46:06.18]by an incredible 10 degrees Celsius.
[46:15.50]At the same time, a noxious stench of rotting flesh fills the forest air.
[46:26.62]As the flower's heat increases, a cloud of odour rises up.
[46:31.42]The foul perfume carries far and wide.
[46:37.26]It doesn't go unnoticed, carrion beetles arrive on the scene.
[46:43.14]The beetles come in search of a feast of warm decaying flesh,
[46:47.90]but they've been tricked.
[46:56.26]Slippery sides ensure they tumble
[46:58.38]straight into the centre of the monster flower.
[47:08.22]There's not enough room to spread their wings
[47:10.06]and the waxy walls ensure that there's no escape.
[47:22.90]But there's nothing sinister in the flower's agenda.
[47:26.86]The beetles will be its unwitting helpers.
[47:35.54]Dawn arrives, but the flower remains unchanged,
[47:39.98]holding its captives through the day.
[47:54.70]As the second night falls, the witch stirs again.
[48:08.18]In a matter of minutes, the flower's precious golden pollen
[48:11.70]squeezes from the stamens and begins to fall,
[48:17.30]showering onto the captive beetles below.
[48:36.26]Now at last the prisoners are free to go.
[48:40.58]The flower's wall changes texture,
[48:43.22]becoming rough to provide the ideal escape ladder.
[48:49.02]Loaded with their pollen parcels, they can now climb to freedom,
[48:54.10]just as other forest witches are beginning to open.
[48:58.42]Seduced by the irresistible perfume, the beetles are sure to pay a visit,
[49:03.74]so ensuring pollination
[49:06.02]and another generation of incredibly big, smelly flowers.
[49:28.06]As dawn arrives,
[49:29.54]forest birds claim their territories in the canopy.
[49:49.86]But there's one call which stands out among the rest,
[49:54.02]virtuoso of the forest symphony.
[50:09.02]It's a gibbon.
[50:23.70]Living on a remote mountain range in south-central Yunnan
[50:27.90]is one of the few remaining wild gibbon populations in China,
[50:32.14]the black crested gibbons of Wuliangshan.
[50:37.86]They are confined to these forest mountains,
[50:40.78]so remote and steep that few hunters ever come here.
[50:55.06]The Wuliangshan gibbons are unusual for their social structure.
[51:00.50]Most gibbons live in small family groups
[51:03.18]consisting of a mating pair and their offspring.
[51:10.98]But these gibbons exist in troops.
[51:14.38]One male can have two or sometimes three females
[51:18.34]and all of these can have young.
[51:28.30]Often, even the juveniles stay in the community.
[51:40.50]Rarely glimpsed, this baby may be only a day old.
[51:45.10]If it survives infancy,
[51:47.10]then it has a promising future in these few valleys
[51:49.98]with its close-knit family.
[52:11.34]Gibbon song once inspired the ancient poets of China,
[52:15.90]their glorious calls echoing far across the hills.
[52:29.70]But now, new, strangely quiet forests have come to Yunnan.
[52:39.26]These trees are here to produce an important and valuable crop.
[53:09.34]When the tree bark is scored, it yields copious sticky sap
[53:12.90]so bitter and tacky that nothing can feed on it.
[53:17.74]It's the tree's natural defence against attack.
[53:24.10]It's collected daily, bowl by bowl.
[53:30.74]It will be boiled and processed
[53:32.78]into one of the most important materials to a fast developing nation, rubber.
[53:41.02]The expansion of the rubber forests began in the '50s when China,
[53:44.58]under a world rubber embargo,
[53:46.70]had to become self-sufficient in this vital product.
[53:53.66]Beijing turned to the only place where rubber could grow,
[53:57.58]the tropical south of Yunnan.
[54:04.42]With efficiency and speed,
[54:06.22]some of the world's richest forests were torn up and burnt,
[54:12.26]replaced with mile upon mile of rubber plantation.
[54:20.46]But there was a problem for the rubber-growers.
[54:24.06]While Yunnan's unique natural forests
[54:26.74]can survive on the valley slopes which stretch to the north,
[54:31.94]just one severe frost will kill off these delicate rubber trees.
[54:39.14]So Yunnan's terrain puts a limit on how far the plantations can spread,
[54:44.94]halting at least their northwards advance.
[54:55.42]The jungles of Yunnan are increasingly under pressure.
[55:03.94]New roads criss-cross the tiny remnant forests,
[55:08.02]the infrastructure needed for trade, industry and increasingly, tourism.
[55:17.86]It's a meeting of two very different worlds.
[55:59.98]That elephants still exist in China is remarkable
[56:03.90]considering the immense pressures in the world's most highly-populated country.
[56:21.70]The 250 or so wild elephants which still live here
[56:25.54]are now strictly protected.
[56:29.62]And each year young are born to the small herds.
[56:40.54]If elephants were to survive anywhere in China,
[56:44.10]it could only have been here in Yunnan.
[56:49.66]The same mountains which guide the monsoon rains north,
[56:53.42]and which made Joseph Rock's journey so treacherous,
[56:56.98]also guarded Yunnan's forests and its wildlife.
[57:51.86]For the moment, the mountains are still carpeted in a rich green,
[57:57.66]deceptive in its simplicity.
[58:01.58]Below the canopy lies perhaps China's richest natural treasure.
[58:06.90]Delicate and unique,
[58:09.38]a complex world of intricate relationships
[58:12.42]between animals, plants and people beneath the clouds.
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