Tourists at their worst: Destroying a 200,000-year-old landform in Gansu

The victim: A 200,000-year-old landform in Zhangye in central Gansu Province, China.

The perpetrators: Identified so far — a 20-year-old man surnamed Li and a 17-year-old man surnamed Xu. Others are currently being investigated but have not been identified.

This video that surfaced on China’s Pear Video streaming site today shows four tourists, not including the camera operator, who deliberately entered the prohibited area at Zhangye National Geopark.

They might have gotten away with the violation if they didn’t film it all.

One of the tourists then decided to upload the now-deleted damning evidence to Douyin, a video-streaming website. Reportedly, it was accompanied with the boast, “Good things must be shared twice: We went through the back door and didn’t have to pay for a ticket. This area looks even better.” Within the video, one of the tourists gloats, “I destroyed a 6,000-year-old [landform]. Very exhilarating.”

Once the video became public, the city government started to investigate, getting geopark employees, police, and experts on the landform to survey the destruction. What was reportedly found was damage to the railings around the affected area, which was supposed to be closed off to the public, as well as to the landform’s signature red-and-yellow stripes. The impacted sand layer is about 200 meters long and will take a long time to restore.

Two of the perpetrators turned themselves in on Tuesday night.