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A shepherd in a remote part of China becomes a social media star after her videos about her life with her sheep go viral on mainland social media. Photo: SCMP composite

‘Gentle desert butcher’: shepherdess’ videos on how to slaughter, skin a sheep in 8 minutes, makes her a China social media star

  • A young shepherdess who joined Chinese TikTok is surprised she has amassed millions of fans with videos of her life such as slaughtering sheep
  • Her videos include information on herding, nursing sheep, drawing as the sun sets, fishing, and of course, roasting lamb

The video stories of a 21-year-old woman who works as a shepherdess in northwestern China, including one in which she slaughters and skins a sheep in eight minutes, have won her millions of fans on mainland social media.

The woman, named Huiran, but who is known to her fans as the “gentle desert butcher”, lives in China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region from where she shares videos showcasing her life as a shepherd to her followers on Chinese TikTok, the Henan Economic News reported.

In 2018, Huiran moved from where she had grown up in Shandong province in eastern China to Xinjiang where her family owns a sheep farming business.

Huiran spends a lot of her time alone while tending her herd giving her many opportunities to appreciate and film the landscape of northwestern China. Photo: Baidu

Living with a family of shepherds and looking after about 600 sheep, caring for the flock has become a part of Huiran’s normal daily routine.

Inspired by the unique life as a shepherdess and the beautiful landscape of northwestern China, Huiran started taking videos of what she saw and her daily experiences.

In November last year, Huiran created an account on TikTok with the username “The Sheep of Grey Wolf”.

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At first the videos she posted attracted little notice until February this year, when she posted a clip of her slaughtering and skinning a sheep within eight minutes. It attracted more than 10,000 likes, and earned her the nickname “gentle desert butcher”.

“Perhaps there is a stark contrast between my skinny appearance and the butcher footage, as the video became a hit immediately”, Huiran told the Henan Economic News.

Huiran hopes people would realise there is more to her than slaughtering sheep and that she is not just some brutal butcher, and she considers herself a little girl at heart, reported The Paper.

Huiran has accumulated 5.45 million followers on TikTok, and posted 122 videos to the social platform. Photo: Baidu

After that first video success, the number of followers on her TikTok account has been increasing steadily. At the time of writing, she had accumulated 5.45 million followers on TikTok, and posted 122 videos.

Her videos cover a wide range of content such as information on herding and nursing sheep, drawing as the sun sets, fishing, and of course, roasting lamb.

Recently, Huiran posted four videos about the times she fed her sheep raw instant noodles as a crunchy snack. She explained that the sheep were fond of her and would come over to her when she was eating the raw noodles.

“I haven’t thought about my videos sharing my daily life becoming popular. I believe that it’s more about the local natural beauty and the shepherd’s life that attracts the public,” Huiran said.

Huiran posted four video clips about occasions when she fed the sheep instant noodles. She says that the sheep would come over to her when she was eating to investigate. Photo: Baidu

A news report about Huiran’s life on Chinese video sharing platform received 26,000 views, with many saying they were moved by her simple but joyful life.

One person commented: “She is so sweet and lovely, meanwhile, she can slaughter a sheep very quickly. What a cool girl!”

“It’s rare to have young people living in such a remote area of Xinjiang, and she tries to enjoy life, albeit living a rustic lifestyle. I do admire her, ” wrote another commenter.