China nature

Articles in ‘China nature’

Golden hair monkey

January 7th, 2011

A pair of golden-haired monkeys snuggle up to keep warm on Shennongjia Mountain in the Hubei Province of China. Temperatures in the region can fall to -25C. Golden-haired monkeys can withstand colder temperatures than any other non-human primate (and without clothes). There are estimated to be just 800 to 1,300 left in the wild. From The Guardian’s This Week in Wildlife

See also Golden Snub-nosed Monkey – Wikipedia Its diet varies markedly with the seasons, but it is primarily an herbivore with lichens being its main food source.

Biologists dressed as pandas

December 12th, 2010
panda cub

Wonderful news story and pictures from the Guardian of Chinese biologists dressed as pandas as part of a plan to reintroduce captive pandas into the wild. The young cubs must not be habituted to humans if the plan is to work.

Despite resembling a particularly feverish ursine nightmare — or surreal TV show — these photographs, taken last week in Sichuan province, China, document the latest efforts to safeguard the endangered animal.

The cub, which was born to a captive mother over the summer at the Hetaoping Research and Conservation Centre for the Giant Panda, in Wolong nature reserve, is being prepared for a life in the wild. If all goes to plan the animal, who weighs just over 8kg (18lb), will be the first such panda to go back to its natural habitat.

Giraffes in Imperial China

August 24th, 2009

In the early 15th century China, briefly, set out to explore the world. Emperor Yongle sponsored a series of seven naval expeditions  to impose imperial control over trade, and impress foreign peoples in the Indian Ocean basin. These expeditions were commanded by admiral in the Imperial Chinese navy, Zheng He. On one expedition, Zheng acquired a giraffe in the kingdom of Bengal, which had been a gift from an East African ruler. The giraffe was sent to the Chinese court, where it was welcomed as a unicorn, an extremely aupiscious gift. He also arranged with the Indian court for another giraffe to be sent from Aficia (Somalia).

A pair of giraffes in Beijing in 1415 was well worth the cost of the expedition. In China they thought the giraffe (despite its having one horn too many) was a unicorn (ch’i-lin), whose arrival, according to Confucian tradition, meant that a sage of the utmost wisdom and benevolence was in their presence. Zheng meanwhile sailed to the East African nation of Somalia, where he obtained lions, leopards, ostriches, zebras, and other animals, which were viewed with amazement in China. Execellent article here

The African unicorn inspired a number of court poems and paintings. The above work was painted by Shen Du (1357-1434), who was a poet, painter, calligrapher, and a favorite of the Yongle emperor. The Chinese called the giraffe a qilin (ch’i-lin), an auspicious mythical animal. Shen Du also composed the following poem about the giraffe:

In the corner of the western seas, in the stagnant waters of a great morass,
Truly was produced a qilin (ch’i-lin), whose shape was as high as fifteen feet.
With the body of a deer and the tail of an ox, and a fleshy, boneless horn,
With luminous spots like a red cloud or purple mist.
Its hoofs do not tread on living beings and in its wanderings it carefully selects its ground.
It walks in stately fashion and in its every motion it observes a rhythm,
Its harmonious voice sounds like a bell or a musical tube.
Gentle is this animal, that has in antiquity been seen but once,
The manifestation of its divine spirit rises up to heaven’s abode. Here

I love the way the poem describes the giraffe’s gait

Its hoofs do not tread on living beings and in its wanderings it carefully selects its ground.
It walks in stately fashion and in its every motion it observes a rhythm,

Recommended books

When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433 Taking the maritime story as its main theme, this book presents a fascinating picture of political and court life during the first several reigns of the Ming

Note: A rather nice children’s story tells the tale of imperial giraffes: Chee-Lin: A Giraffe’s Journey

Asian wildlife news 2

August 21st, 2009

White-handed gibbons (Wikiepdia)

  • The growing prosperous middle class of Vietnam’s taste for exotic and local bushmeat is threatening species. Among the animals most seriously at risk for what is called “forest food” are the rhino, the white-handed gibbon and the civet. Independent
  • Tiger deaths continue at an alarming rate. Statistics collated from different parts of India show that
    in the first six months of the year, at least 66 tigers died. Of these, 23 died due to poaching. The list includes seizures of skins, bones, claws, skeletons, canines and paws by police and wildlife authorities during this period. The remaining 43 died of a variety of reasons such as infighting, old age, tiger-human conflict, accidents and disease, according to statistics provided by Wildlife Protection Society of India. Times of India
  • An initiative to transport lone Borneo rhinos to a secure central location – where they can interact with other rhinos – could mean hope for this extremely rare subspecies.
  • Police are searching for the culprits behind the beheading and skinning of a rare Siberian tiger at a zoo in central China, state media reported Sunday. Sun media

Himalayas threatened

August 10th, 2009

350 new species have been found in the Eastern Himalayas in the last 10 years according to a new report (Where Worlds Collide) by WWF, highlighting the need to protect further this still huge but ever shrinking wilderness. New species are being discovered at a rate of 35 a year including the miniature muntjac (Muntiacus putaoensis), also known as the leaf deer, the smallest species of deer in the world, and the Arunachal macaque (Macaca munzala above photo by Anindya Sinha) – the first monkey to be found since 1903. Threats to the Eastern Himalayas, divided between Nepal, Bhutan and parts of China, India, Bangladesh and Burma, include illegal logging, demand for land, poaching, pollution and climate change.

Mark Wright of the WWF notes:

“In the Eastern Himalayas we have a region of extraordinary beauty and with some of the most biologically rich areas on the planet. Ironically, it is also one of the regions most at risk from climate change, as evidenced by the rapid retreat of the glaciers, and only time will tell how well species will be able to adapt – if at all.”

See also

More soon on this

World Bank against tiger farming

July 22nd, 2009 The World Bank says experimenting with tiger farming is too risky and could drive wild tigers further toward extinction. “Extinction is irreversible, so prudence and precaution suggest that the risks of legalized farming are too great a gamble for the world to take,” said World Bank Director Keshav Varma. The tiger trade is prohibited internationally and banned in all countries where it is present, including China which has historically been the largest market for tiger products. But, owners of privately run tiger farms and rich business people in China have been pressuring the Chinese government to permit legal trade in tiger parts inside China by lifting the domestic tiger trade ban, introduced in 1993. WWF

Bird protection in China

July 17th, 2009 Despite the emphasis on rapid economic development in support of improved living standards for its people, China has established more than 2,000 Protected Areas since 1956. But in such a vast country, many sites important to bird conservation are not yet protected. But now the country is protecting more areas (Birdwatch)