(Photos: 大窩穿龍圳地景藝術節 Facebook page )
That so many such rarities exist is thanks to the Hakka and Atayal people who settled this place over 100 years ago, the result of two people groups intermarrying and living peaceably together. This was a time when conflicts over land were breaking out between indigenous people and Han settlers all over Taiwan. But luckily in the Dawo region, the Atayal princess Yayud (雅悠) married the Hakka explorer Chen Lu-hsien (陳履獻) in 1872, allowing the two groups to mix, settle and live here together; a situation maintained by later generations down to the present day.
Watercourses were built because of the difficulty of obtaining water in the mountain terrain. A hundred years ago without explosives or other tools, the Hakka forefathers painstakingly dug out channels by hand to divert water for growing crops and to drink. Among the things that Dawo preserves today is a watercourse trail named the Yayud Irrigation Canal after the Atayal princess who married the Hakka explorer Chen Lu-hsien.
In addition to the watercourse scenery, visitors can also see the totally clean and perfectly clear Dawo Creek where shoals of fish swim leisurely -- the result of local people coming together to protect their fish. At one time, many folks came from outside to catch the local minnows en masse and sell them for a high price, causing an ecological imbalance. Because of this, the residents decided to close off the creek and ban fishing for everyone -- including themselves -- and prosecute offenders. Over time people were dissuaded from coming to fish, resulting in today’s beautiful ecological scenery of the Huyu (“Protect the Fish”) Trail.
As well as the sight of tung blossoms in May, Dawo Ecological Park is also known for its successful reintroduction of fireflies. April to May is the best time to see fireflies and many tourists choose to spend the afternoon to the evening to enjoy the tung blossoms in the daytime and the fireflies in the night sky after dark, experiencing the purest natural environment.