Fascinating Nature Preserves
1981 Yunnan has established 19forest and wild animal protection
zones and 11 nature preserves, covering a total area of 18.38 million
mu. Yunnan has more nature preserves than any other Chinese province.
Six of these nature preserves are at national level. The Cangshan-Erhai
Nature Preserve, occupying an area of 79,700 hectares, features
the remains of glaciers, primeval forests and highland lakes. The
Ailao Mountain Nature Preserve, covering an area of 50,360 hectares,
has subtropical forests of ever-green broadleaf trees. The Nangun
River Nature Preserve, stretching for 6,983hectares,was set up to
protect tropical forests and the Asian elephants living in them.
The preserves in Xishuangbanna, the Gaoligong Mountain area and
the Baimang Snow Mountain area are the largest in Yunnan Province.
has 3,500 species of plants and many tropical and subtropical rain
forests. In the forest are thick arbors and numerous different shrubs
growing together to form an enchanted green world. Xishuangbanna
is a unique botanical garden, in which one can find almost every
kind of plant which grows on the planet including cycadopsida, the
heaviest wood; cork wood, the lightest wood; sandalwood, the most
fragrant wood; whitewood, the wood with the most unpleasant smell;
curare wood, the most poisonous; Coptis chinensis, the bitterest;
padauk, the hardest wood; teak, the most valuable, and so on.
One of the miracles in the forest
is known as the one-tree forest. The banyan tree is
one of these strange trees. Roots growing from all over
its trunk and branches and reach down and plant themselves
in the earth. These roots then form new trees which
stand close together. Over time, the roots of the banyan
become several trees forming its own small forest. Visitors
often find it hard to tell which of the trees is the
Xishuangbanna has been a paradise
for animals since ancient times. The people of the Dai
ethnic group used to call the Langcang River "Nanlanzhang",
meaning "a river to water millions of elephants."
Jinghong City was called "Mengjingyong" in
ancient times, meaning" the peacock domain".
Now living in the tropical rain forests of Xishuangbanna
are Asian elephants, tigers, leopards, wild oxen, apes,
monkeys, deer, giant lizards, giant boa constrictors
and other rare animals.
Gaoligong Mountain Nature Preserve occupies 123,900hectares, of
which about85 per cent is covered with forest. High peaks and deep
canyons in the area combine to form a complex topography and varied
climatic conditions, thus creating a perfect living environment
for a wide variety of animals and plants. The Gaoligong Mountain,
like a mighty protective screen, shelters the preserve from the
cold currents coming from the northwest, while holding the warm
and humid currents from the Indian Ocean within the zone. Standing
high above sea level and situated at a low latitude, the preserve
enjoys a typical subtropical climate. The main section of this nature
preserve is 1,600 - 2,800 meters above sea level, and links with
the Himalayas. Growing here are precious primeval forests of broadleaf
trees where ancient azaleas still bloom. The largest is thought
to be at least 500 years old. There are also some ancient species
of plants under first class national protection, such as Phoebe
nanmu, Chinese hemlock, Chinese tulip tree and so forth.
In the Hengduan Mountains which stretch
from north to south,is an area which zoologists call
the north-south corridor of animals. In this area live
around 30 rare animals under first class national protection,
including gibbons, slow loris, francois's monkeys, phayre's
monkeys, assamese macaques, stump-tailed macaques, black
musk deers, clouded leopards, golden cats, viverrids,
and so forth. More than 300 kinds of birds also live
in the zone.
Baimang Snow Mountain
Starting from Zhongdian, visitors
can travel along the mountain roads until they reach
the main peak of the Baimang Snow Mountain of 5,430
meters above sea level. Surrounding the main peak are
20 other snow-capped peaks. The steep mountainous areas
from the Jinsha River Valley to the top of the Baimang
Snow Mountain may be divided into several sections which
have different topography and climate. For example,
about 2,300 meters above sea level is a hot, dry valley;
from 2,300 to 3,000 meters is an area of pine forest;
from 3,000 to 3,200 meters are several broadleaf and
other types of forests; from 3,200 to 4,500 meters is
grassy marshland; from 4,500 to 5,000 is a barren area
with sparse vegetation; and finally, over 5,000meters
is covered with ice and snow all year round.
Covering an area of 190,144 hectares,
the Baimang Snow Mountain Nature Preserve is a realm
of highland plants and animals which thrive in cold
and temperate zones. It is believed to be the largest
primeval forest in the world and its natural ecology
is still intact. Firs are the masters of the forests
with their crowns linking together to form a dark-green
sea. The eight famous species of flowers of Yunnan can
all be found in this preserve. When spring moves into
summer, rhododendrons bloom everywhere, orioles and
birds sing one after another, and monkeys of many species
play in the trees.
golden monkeys (rhinopithecus bieti), otherwise called "Black
snub-nosed monkeys", the second most precious animal on the
national list for protection, live in the zone. This group of monkeys
live at the highest place above sea level of all monkeys worldwide.
The Yunnan golden monkeys live in harmony with over80 other animal
species, including lesser pandas, vultures, snow leopards, blood
pheasants, red foxes, Tibetan eared pheasants, silver pheasants,
ring-necked pheasants, lady amherst's pheasants, kokloss pheasants,
sun birds and many other species.