China's Mother River Under Threat Over the centuries, the floodwaters of China's Yellow River have claimed millions of lives. Now, the problem has reversed: The river is drying up due to ecological damage, forcing nomadic Tibetans to give up their traditional way of life.
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China's Mother River Under Threat

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China's Mother River Under Threat

China's Mother River Under Threat

China's Mother River Under Threat

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Danma (center) and his family have been forced by the Chinese government to give up their traditional Tibetan way of life in an effort to prevent further drying up of the Yellow River. They now live in a government housing development in Madoi County in western China's Qinghai Province. hide caption

Explore the Lives and Traditions of Two Tibetan Families
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At its source high on the Tibetan plateau in Qinghai Province, the water of the Yellow River runs clear and blue. Andrea Hsu, NPR hide caption

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Andrea Hsu, NPR

At its source high on the Tibetan plateau in Qinghai Province, the water of the Yellow River runs clear and blue.

Andrea Hsu, NPR

There used to be some 4,000 small lakes such as this one in the Yellow River source area. Now, three-quarters of them are dry. Andrea Hsu, NPR hide caption

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Andrea Hsu, NPR

There used to be some 4,000 small lakes such as this one in the Yellow River source area. Now, three-quarters of them are dry.

Andrea Hsu, NPR

A Journey Through China

Prayer flags dot mountains in the area, a reminder of the traditional Tibetan way of life. Andrea Hsu, NPR hide caption

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Andrea Hsu, NPR

Prayer flags dot mountains in the area, a reminder of the traditional Tibetan way of life.

Andrea Hsu, NPR
Alice Kreit, NPR
Yellow River map
Alice Kreit, NPR

Signs that the Yellow River is running out of water abound. Andrea Hsu, NPR hide caption

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Andrea Hsu, NPR

Signs that the Yellow River is running out of water abound.

Andrea Hsu, NPR

The Chinese government is building new housing developments, such as this one in Madoi, for Tibetan families who have given up herding. Andrea Hsu, NPR hide caption

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Andrea Hsu, NPR

The Chinese government is building new housing developments, such as this one in Madoi, for Tibetan families who have given up herding.

Andrea Hsu, NPR