Wildlife of China


Wildlife of China

Wildlife of China includes its flora and fauna and their natural habitats.

China's varied geography and climate has created a wealth of wildlife habitats, the country's vast human population has put pressure on the environment, bringing some high-profile creatrues to the edge of extinction. Most famous of these is the giant panda, which survives in pockets of high-altitude bamboo forest across the southwest. The Giant Panda's are endangered and now there are only around 600 of them left in the world. A few Siberian tigers haunt the northeastern highlands, while the critically endangered South China tiger can be found in reserves in Fujian and Guangxi.

Less well-known rarities include the snub-nosed golden monkey and Chinese alligator, both of which it is possible to see in the wild. Birdlife can be prolific, however, with freshwater lakes along the Yangtze and in western Guizhou, along with the vast saline Qinghai Lake, providing winter refuge for hosts of migratory wildfowl - including rare Siberian and black-necked cranes.

Fauna

Animals native to China:
*Asian Golden Cat
*Bactrian Camel
*Blue Bear
*Boar
*Brown rat
*Caspian Tiger
*Chinese Monal
*Chinese Mountain Cat
*Chinese crocodile lizard
*Clouded Leopard
*Common Spoonbill
*Corsac Fox
*Deinagkistrodon
*Dhole
*Dice snake
*Dwarf Blue Sheep
*Elaphe bimaculata
*Elk
*Ethmostigmus rubripes
*Eurasian Lynx
*Giant Panda
*Gloydius blomhoffii
*Grass Snake
*Hainan Hare
*Hog Badger
*Indochinese Tiger
*Indotestudo elongata
*Jerboa
*Leopard
*Leopard Cat
*Long-eared Jerboa
*Manchurian Hare
*Marbled Cat
*Marco Polo sheep
*Neofelis
*Ovophis monticola
*Pacific cod
*Pallas's Cat
*Pelochelys cantorii
*Protobothrops jerdonii
*Qinling Panda
*Raccoon Dog
*Rafetus swinhoei
*Red Panda
*Siberian Musk Deer
*Siberian Roe Deer
*Siberian Tiger
*Snow leopard
*South China Tiger
*Tibetan Fox
*Tibetan Wolf
*Tibetan antelope
*Tiger
*Trimeresurus gramineus
*Trimeresurus mangshanensis
*Trimeresurus medoensis
*Trimeresurus stejnegeri
*Yangtze dolphin

Birds

Molluscs

There are 2935 species of gastropods and 1187 species of bivalves in China. [ [http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1749-4877.2007.00039.x Blackwell Synergy - Integrative Zoology, Volume 2 Issue 1 Page 26-35, March 2007 (Article Abstract) ] ]

There is little information about extinctions of invertebrates in China. [ [http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1749-4877.2007.00046.x Blackwell Synergy - Integrative Zoology, Volume 2 Issue 2 Page 79-88, June 2007 (Article Abstract) ] ]

Flora

Endangered species

Currently, China's endangered flora and fauna includes the familiar, endemic and scarce giant panda; South China tiger, Yangtze river dolphin; crested ibis; and a host of other plants and animals. Of these, the giant panda is most populous with approximately a thousand individuals left in the wild, while the entire known population of crested ibis is perhaps 45, and Yangtze dolphins number less than 20. Other endangered animals include the snow leopard, which depends on western China for over half its range; the Asian elephant, a resident of Xishuangbanna near Laos and Vietnam; the golden monkey; the Yangtze alligator; and migratory species such as the red-crowned crane and black-necked crane.

Ultimately, wildlife has declined because conserving it is not considered a productive use of land. Intensive cultivation of land for food production has led to diminishing habitat for wildlife, just as reclamation of wetlands for agriculture, and construction of power stations and water conservancy have diminished the area of freshwater ecosystems. Millions of domesticated sheep and cows are grazed on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, leading to an increased threat of desertification, a situation heightened by serious droughts and fires in 2002. Demand has outstripped supply for virtually all natural resources, including water (shortages are faced throughout the country), timber, animal products and wild plants. The current economic boom (accompanied by a massive spurt in car-buying) has only served to worsen pollution and thus damage to habitats.

The extent of deforestation for commercial timber, fuel and the creation of new farmland over the last half-century has had massive consequences - most recently it has been blamed for the extent of the appalling flooding through the Yangtze Basin during the late 1990s. An acute illustration of the impact on wildlife is the case of the giant panda. Giant pandas require vast quantities of bamboo, which grows as an understorey to the moist subtropical forests of mountainous Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi provinces. Without an upper storey of trees, bamboo will wither. The logging which has diminished the forest areas of these provinces has shrunk panda habitat as well. Another animal to suffer from deforestation is the tiger, of which there are probably fewer than one hundred remaining in China - it was deliberately hunted out during the 1950s and 1960s. Very little suitable habitat remains for the species to recover in numbers and one endemic variety, the South China tiger, is critically endangered.

Conservation

Environmental conservation has traditionally enjoyed a low priority, but progress has been made in recent years. China's first wildlife refuge, at Dinghu Shan in Guangdong province, was created in 1956, since when the number has grown to over seven hundred nature reserves covering almost six percent of the country. The government agencies managing these reserves have collaborated with a variety of external organizations since 1980, when the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) helped establish a giant panda conservation program. UNESCO counts ten Chinese reserves among its international network, a status which has encourage international funding for further conservation projects.

Spurred by the growing international focus on China through its entry into the WTO, the government itself has shown a growing commitment to conservation in recent years, for instance by earmarking several millions of US dollars for the creation of some two hundred or more new wetlands reserves over the next decade.

Increasing siltation and land reclamation, which caused Dongting Hu to shrink by almost 50% between 1950 to 1998, has been partially reversed by the recent resettling of 300,000 farmers away from the lake — though pollution from nearby Yueyang city remains problematic, even if pesticides and fertilizers are now banned in the area.

Although forest clearing continues, China's overall forest cover has recently risen to almost 14%. This increase has been brought about by the "Great Green Wall" campaign - the planting of a huge belt of trees across the Northwest to help stop encroaching erosion - and associated reafforestation efforts, currently focused at the upper reaches of major river systems such as the Yangtze, Yellow and Liao rivers, while anti-desertification projects focus on north-central China in Ningxia and Inner Mongolia. A major concern has been the biological value of these replanted forests in that they are lower than that of the natural forests they replace. Replanted forests can provide timber for industrial and household use, but it does not adequately replace the role of natural forests in protecting soil, retaining water or supporting wildlife.

There are more encouraging signs that the Chinese public are beginning to take the environment very seriously too. The national campaign to save the snub-nosed monkey, a creature found only in western Yunnan, is a case in point, and was the first of its kind in China. Some of the monkey's habitat is protected, but Deqin County, which became the focus of the issue, relies on timber for 95% of its government revenue - and thus for the salaries of its employees as well as for funding schools and health clinics. A local wildlife videographer took special interest in the monkey's plight and produced a television program which was broadcast nationally, leading to something akin to a national outcry. When, as a result, the State Forestry Administration expressed its concern, this was naturally met with demands for compensation from Deqin County's government. To stop logging would undoubtedly bring economic hardship to the county, already mired in poverty of the most dramatic kind, and with few income options beyond the sale of its one valuable resource. To date, no long-term solution has been identified, though recent increases in regional tourism might provide alternative incomes. Indeed, the biggest problem in instituting new reserves is how to redeploy hundreds of thousands of loggers hitherto working in those areas.

In 2002, Chinese university students were involved in a program sponsored by the WWF and the State Forestry Administration to promote environmental awareness among farmers and local officials. Several environmentally minded non-governmental organizations also exist and, though few of these would count as pressure groups in the American sense, they indicate the growing space for public debate over these issues. Environmental television and radio programs abound on China's airwaves, further fuelling conservation awareness. Most significantly, younger, technically trained Chinese specialists are taking over responsibility for official conservation programs and, while often subordinate to the anachronistic policies of politically appointed superiors, this new generation is developing influence in key areas around the country.

ee also

*Geography of China

References

External links

* [http://www.cwca.org.cn/ China Wildlife Conservation Association] (official)


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