Up close with Shen­nongjia's flora and fauna

Changjiang Weekly - - SHENNONGJIA -

More than a hun­dred years ago, the Bri­tish botanist Henry Wil­son came to Shen­nongjia and col­lected many species that had never been seen be­fore in the West. Be­cause of these dis­cov­er­ies, he was granted mem­ber­ship in the Royal Botanic Gar­dens. He said that far away in China there was a mys­te­ri­ous land called Shen­nongjia, the "Gar­den of Eden."

In 2016 Shen­nongjia was listed as a World Nat­u­ral Her­itage Site, es­sen­tially be­cause of its rich re­sources in an­i­mal and plant species.

Shen­nongjia is the most com­plete al­ti­tu­di­nal nat­u­ral belt in the world. There are at least 3,767 vas­cu­lar plant species and 590 tem­per­ate plant gen­era with 205 lo­cal en­demic species, two en­demic gen­era and 1,793 Chi­nese en­demic species. Ow­ing to the preser­va­tion of key ecosys­tems, a large num­ber of rare an­i­mals such as the golden or Sichuan snub-nosed mon­key have set­tled here. Shen­nongjia is also a par­adise for a va­ri­ety of in­sects. With a to­tal of 4,365 species of in­sects found here, it is of great sig­nif­i­cance to zo­ol­o­gists and botanists alike.

Vis­it­ing fa­mous rare an­i­mals and plants

an­i­mal parks, such as those for gi­ant sala­man­ders, sika deer, snakes, scor­pi­ons and Chi­nese bees. Fa­mous rare an­i­mals and plants (or their spec­i­mens) can be found here.

Shen­nongjia Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum is a scenic area worth vis­it­ing. There are seven theme halls that deal with ge­ol­ogy, rare stones, aca­demic knowl­edge, paint­ing and cal­lig­ra­phy, bi­ol­ogy, sci­en­tific re­search, and folk cus­toms. There are also ser­vice and sup­port fa­cil­i­ties such as the re­cep­tion cen­ter, a wild man cave, a 4D and arc screen theater, and a tea gallery. Here you can find fos­sils that record the ge­o­log­i­cal changes of Shen­nongjia, as well as spec­i­mens of rare plants and an­i­mals such as Chi­nese yews, dove trees, white-crowned long-tailed pheas­ants, leop­ard cats, golden cats, and golden mon­keys. Swim­ming in the wa­ter are liv­ing fos­sils: dabry's stur­geons that orig­i­nated in the Cre­ta­ceous pe­riod hun­dreds of mil­lions of years ago, gi­ant sala­man­ders and al­lochroic sala­man­ders.

Gi­ant pan­das at Guan­men Hill Scenic Area

What is re­mark­able is that you can also see gi­ant pan­das in the scenic area. Shen­nongjia Na­tional Park's Gi­ant Panda Pavil­ion is lo­cated in Hongfeng Gar­den at the Rare Plant Pro­tec­tion Park of the Guan­men Hill Scenic Area. Two new villa-style pavil­ions are the home of the gi­ant pan­das. The fa­cil­i­ties are sur­rounded by moun­tains and green trees, with a small stream flow­ing slowly in front of the gate. Cur­rently, two gi­ant pan­das, named "Aoyun" and "Yun­yun," are liv­ing here.

Ac­cord­ing to schol­ars from the Col­lege of Re­sources and En­vi­ron­ment at Hubei Univer­sity, a large amount of bam­boo died in the Shen­nongjia area dur­ing the Song dy­nasty. As a re­sult, most of the gi­ant pan­das liv­ing here were forced to move west­ward. Since the Ming and Qing dy­nas­ties, hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties have cut off an­i­mal mi­gra­tion routes be­tween

Shen­nongjia and Sichuan & Chongqing. Be­cause of this, the gi­ant pan­das dis­ap­peared from Shen­nongjia. In 1996 ar­chae­ol­o­gists dis­cov­ered the in­com­plete fos­sils of pan­das in the Hong­ping area of Shen­nongjia. Test­ing shows they date back 100,000 years.

Come into close con­tact with golden mon­keys

Golden mon­keys are Class I Na­tional Pro­tected En­dan­gered and Rare An­i­mals. There are two ma­jor habi­tats for the golden mon­key in the Shen­nongjia Forestry Dis­trict: the Jin­houl­ing Habi­tat and the Qian­ji­ap­ing Habi­tat. The new cen­sus, launched in the fall of 2015, shows that the num­ber of golden mon­keys in Shen­nongjia has been re­duced to less than 1,500.

Golden mon­keys are mi­gra­tory an­i­mals; they live in the for­est, ad­vanc­ing one kilo­me­ter ev­ery day, eat­ing while walk­ing and play­ing. When tired they sleep in the trees. Af­ter wak­ing up, they will eat, walk and play again. If at­tacked or fright­ened, the mon­keys will abruptly change their be­hav­ior and be­gin a long-dis­tance emer­gency jour­ney, run­ning for about 18 kilo­me­ters a day.

Golden mon­keys of­ten hang out in the area of Da­long Pond and Xiao­long Pond. If you are lucky enough, you can see them play­ing in the moun­tains and forests. You can also wit­ness them be­ing fed by staff in the Golden Mon­key Res­cue and Do­mes­ti­ca­tion Base.

In the Xiao­long Pond area there is a science ed­u­ca­tion and re­search base that dis­plays the unique eco­log­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment and re­sources of Shen­nongjia and car­ries out an en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­tourism ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram. In the Golden Mon­key Res­cue and Do­mes­ti­ca­tion Base, vis­i­tors can come into close con­tact with mon­keys that have lost the abil­ity to sur­vive in the wild.

Gi­ant panda in Guan­men Hill Scenic Area

Golden mon­key at Xiao­long Pond

Botan­i­cal pav­il­lon in Shen­nongjia Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum

Deer in Guan­men Hill Scenic Area

Nat­u­ral Ecol­ogy Mu­seum

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