Qinling Mountains: Global biodiversity hotspot in NW Shaanxi

The leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan gathered in Xi'an City, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, on Thursday and Friday to attend the China-Central Asia Summit. As an important hub of the Belt and Road Initiative and a frontier of "opening to the west," the province is on a road to green development, making green the background color of the Belt and Road.

When it comes to Shaanxi, the Qinling Mountains must be mentioned. The mountains are a geographically important north-south boundary in China, and an important ecological barrier that help regulate climate, maintain soil and water, and preserve biodiversity. To the south of the Qinling Mountains, there is a subtropical monsoon climate and the average precipitation is more than 800 millimeters, while to the north, the climate is temperate and the average precipitation is less than 800 millimeters.

The Qinling Mountains are home to more than 3,800 plant and 580 animal species, making it one of the 11 key areas of global biodiversity.

Qinling Mountains. /CFP
Qinling Mountains. /CFP

Qinling Mountains. /CFP

CGTN Nature: Qinling Mountains Series | Episode 4: Living with Bamboo

The Qinling Mountains are also one of the most important habitats for wild pandas. The Fourth National Giant Panda Survey in the area in 2012 recorded a 26.4 percent rise in wild panda numbers over the past decade with an estimated minimum population of 345 wild pandas. Back in the 1980s, there were only 109 pandas in the area, but now it has the highest wild panda population density in China.

In October 2022, China's Giant Panda National Park was established, covering more than 22,000 square kilometers in parts of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, to better protect and restore pandas' habitats. 

Qinling Giant Panda Science Park will be established at the northern foot of Qinling Mountains to strengthen the work of panda reproduction, protection and scientific research, according to a strategic cooperation agreement signed by Shaanxi Provincial Forestry Bureau, Natural Resources and Planning Bureau of Xi'an City and Xi'an Tourism Group on November 9, 2022. 


CGTN Nature: Qinling Mountains Series | Episode 8: Crested Ibis

As of 2021, the population of crested ibis in the province reached 5,257, accounting for 79.45 percent of the national population and 68.67 percent of the global population. However, the species was once on the brink of extinction worldwide. 

The bird used to be widespread in China, the Korean Peninsula, Japan and Russia. In China, the crested ibis was distributed in 14 provinces, with Shaanxi Province in northwest China one of their biggest habitats. In 1981, only seven wild crested ibises were found in the Qinling Mountains. After more than 40 years of species and habitat protection, the population of this species is gradually increasing.


As one of the "four precious species in the Qinling Mountains" – the giant panda, the crested ibis, the golden snub-nosed monkey and the golden takin – the monkey is under first-class protection at China's national level. is It is mainly found in the mixed broadleaf-conifer forests in the Qinling Mountains 2,000-3,000 meters above sea level. 

Since the early 1980s, the population of golden snub-nosed monkeys in Qinling Mountains has grown from more than 3,000 to nearly 5,000.


CGTN Nature: Qinling Mountains Series | Episode 6: Takins on the Move

One rare animal on the mountain is said to have "six dissimilarities": its back looks like a brown bear, its tilted hind legs are similar to spotted hyena and its limbs make it look like cattle, while its cheeks are like those of a moose, the tail is similar to that of a goat and the antlers are like those of a wildebeest. The animal is named the golden takin, an endangered goat-antelope.

Under China's national first-class protection, the population of the species reached 10,000 in 2022.


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