According to locals like Ahmat, the Lop Nur people fished for food in the area famous for the
vast Lop Nur lake, where historically the Tarim River ended. The lake dried up not long after the water in the
river had gone. As such, many fishermen packed away their rods and instead pursued herding and farming.
“When I was a child, I never ate fish. Nor did I ever see my grandfather or father go fishing,” says Ahmat.
When the ‘black storms’ struck, I could see nothing, and the shee
p couldn’t find their way home,” he recalled of the sandstorms in the old days.
“Nothing could be seen when a black storm hit, and nothing was left after the sto
rm,” says Wang Jianben, 74, who lives on a farm some 100 km away from Ahmat’s village.
“Most of the crops would be blown away, and the farmers had to replant the crops three to four times in a single spring.”