IN his continuing search for the more weird and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says authorities in Beijing have ’fessed-up – they’ve lost nearly a third of the Great Wall of China…
It means something like 2000km of the famous structure that was started in the 7th century BC is now unaccounted for, victim of erosion by wind and rain – or theft by humans.
And The Great Wall of China Society says it’s theft that’s the biggest concern, with locals every year knocking-off hundreds of thousands of the bricks and stones that comprise the Wall and its various towers once used for observation, communication and grain storage, and using them to build farm sheds and even complete houses.
Other culprits, the Society says, run lucrative “souvenir” businesses selling the centuries’ old hand-made bricks for 30 Yuan ($6.25) each to tourists, little-worried by threatened hefty fines as law enforcement is so woefully lax.
And as well as wind and rain that have played havoc with the Wall, plants and trees growing in cracks along its thousands of kilometres have caused huge sections to break off and fall away as their roots grow and expand.
Finally, the Wall Society says, with so many larger and major sections of the Great Wall of China gone, tourists are turning their attention to smaller and more fragile lengths, so endangering these less-protected remaining sections.