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Cormorants Fishing for Compliments by Guilin Li River

On traditional bamboo rafts, with cormorants by their side and the mountains all around, the Huang brothers set out for another day of work on Lijiang River.

Not as fishermen - they gave that up in 2008 - but as professional models.

Huang Quande, 87, and 76-year-old Huang Yuechuang, or yuying laoren, as they are known on the Chinese internet (it means old cormorant fishermen), are among the most well-known features of Xingping, a small, picturesque county in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region that is popular with tourists from China and abroad.

Huang Quande (right), 87, and his brother Huang Yuechuang, 76, fish on the Lijiang River in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Photos by Huo Yan and Ren Qi / China Daily

Huang Yuechuang with his cormorants.

Almost every day, visitors to the area, many of them foreigners and some professional photographers, snap pictures of the brothers, who appear in the style of cormorant fishermen, with rafts, bamboo oars, palm leaf raincoats and kerosene lamps.

For centuries, fishermen used cormorants to hunt and catch fish. The fishermen tie a snare near the base of the bird's throat which stops it from swallowing larger fish. When the bird catches a fish, the fishermen bring it back and make it spit out the catch. The method is still practiced in some areas today.

In April last year, the Daily Telegraph in London posted a series about the Huang brothers' old way of life by Russian photographer Viktoriia Rogotneva, bringing them international attention.

"We've become real internet celebrities," says Huang Yuechuang. "Almost every photo about us put on the internet is destined to be famous and popular."

A British woman, who has lived in the nearby city of Guilin for more than a decade and has known the Huang brothers for many years, helps to organize photo shoots. The brothers say they can earn as much as 20,000 yuan ($3,040; 2,730 euros) a month.

On May 23, a family of three from New Zealand made an appointment for the whole afternoon. Liz, the mother, says she came to China after being inspired by the photos of the two fishermen and that taking nice photos in Guilin was the sole aim for the trip.

Huang Yuechuang says their schedule is extremely busy right up to September.