- Wild Boar
On a hill slope next to the road in an abandoned forest farm, a wild piglet sizes up a member of the census team. Before the surveyors can reach her, the sow quickly scuttles a group of piglets into the dense vegetation and out of sight Wild boars are robust animals that can move very fast. With protruding fangs, they should not be trifled with, especially when appearing in groups.
- White-Backed Woodpecker
Woodpeckers are unique birds. Unlike most birds that have three toes pointing forward and one toe pointing back, woodpeckers have two toes pointing each way, allowing them to stand firmly on tree trunks. The woodpecker’s tough beak is like a chisel, allowing the bird to peck through hard wood. Even more unique is the woodpecker’s tongue which can stretch to long lengths, has a thin hook, and contains a viscous liquid that allows worms hiding in rotting trees no escape.
- Hawk Moth
Nectar of dahlias attracts the hawk moth which hovers like a humming bird when feeding. The hawk moth flies quickly, has a streamlined shape, and has feet which can retract like the wheels of an aircraft. The I hairs on its tail end are neatly arranged like feathers on a bird’s tail and its siphoning mouthpiece bends freely and is more flexible than those of a hummingbird.
- Sichuan Snub-Nosed Monkey
The Sichuan snub-nosed monkey can definitely stake its claim to the title of “Monkey King” with its long golden fur, fashionable hairstyle, cute snub nose, and large round eyes. Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys like to live in groups, and are active in primitive coniferous forests at high altitudes. The Sichuan snub-nosed monkey feeds on the usnea lichen that hangs from treetops and is the rarest of the three monkey species that share the giant panda’s habitat.
- Green Japalure
This green japalure clashes from shrub to rock, almost invisible due to its colors that are similar to the rock. The little fellow stares at the census surveyors without moving an inch, trying to determine if the other party is friend or foe. Perhaps he is deciding whether or not he should attack, escape, or just sit still.
- Giant Panda
Researchers found that wild pandas, in contrast to their captive brothers, reproduce at a higher rate. Pandas have proved notoriously difficult to breed in captivity. One of the biggest threats to the wild panda today is the destruction of their habitats due to human activities. Fragmented habitats prevent natural communication between different populations and decrease the genetic variation in the wild
- Woolly Horseshoe Bat
On a rare encounter in a cave, a census surveyor discovers the existence of this hermit by the beam of his flashlight. The woolly horseshoe bat is the largest horseshoe bat in China. They are typically found in caves living with other horseshoe bats as well as with great round leaf bats. Though they live in groups, woolly horseshoe bats are usually found hanging alone from the cave roof close to the entrance where the light is more abundant.
- Greater Green Snake
This greater green snake is enjoying warmth from the last rays of light before the sun sets. The local guide mistakes it for a bamboo viper and prepares to strike the creature with a rock. One of the census team members intervenes and is able to convince the guide there is no danger. They chase the snake into the trailside grass sparing its life. The greater green snake is a gentle, non-venomous snake, but is often mistaken for a poisonous viper and killed by the local population.
- Red Panda
Two big, red mushrooms appear in the dense coniferous forest. As census surveyors stops for a closer observation, he realizes there is no mushroom, but rather a red panda staring back at him. When a red panda is frightened, it simply freezes and hides in the trees, earning mutation among locals as a slow-witted “Forrest Gump”.
- Leopard Cat
The leopard cat is the mysterious hunter of the forest. Its body size is comparable to that of a domestic cat and it has beautiful fur patterns. This nocturnal animal is highly agile and solitary. Under the cover of darkness, it creeps silently up to its pray and swiftly attacks. Birds, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals are favorite targets.
The takin is one of the largest animals to reside in the same area with the giant panda. While takins are strict vegetarians and live in herds, they have infamously short tempers. The male takin is highly independent, preferring to live alone than amongst the herd. His daunting presence and aggressive nature does not cooperate well with a herd mentality.
- Asiatic Black Bear
A female Asiatic black bear forages for food in a wild walnut tree but suddenly descends and retreats when she hears and smells humans in her territory. After running for about 200 meters she stops short and roars in what appeared to be the direction of the census surveyors. The vocalization indicates she feels she and her cubs are threatened, or a signal for the cubs to run from danger. As immediately they scuttled down the tree, all three making a hasty retreat Asiatic black bears can be dangerous and aggressive animals, especially when they are injured or have cubs with them. It was a close call for the census surveyors as a mother bear is likely to attack when she feels her cubs are threatened.
- Wilson’s Magnolia
In May, as the snow and ice recede, regions deep in the Liang Mountains have only begun to experience the emergence of spring. From brilliant rhododendrons to the unusual Chinese Paris Rhizome, the awakening array of wildflowers is complex and dazzling. Of particular note is the Wilson’s magnolia. This plant, classified as a National Class II Protected Wild Plant, is known literally as “heaven maiden flower” in Chinese, and like a goddess, it is beautiful.
- Ghost Plant
Among the array of saprophytic plants, the ghost plant is one of the prettiest having a transparent, flawless charm. Why is this organism, without a tint of green, considered a plant? The ghost plant has both roots and leaves and is indeed a flowering cormophyte. However, over time it evolved to be saprophytic and not in need of sunlight. For a glimpse of this plant’s beauty, one can only try his or her luck at some dark comer in the forest.
As a member of azalea family, the enkianthus blooms dazzlingly in the spring. In the fall it undergoes a makeover to don bright red autumn leaves that display beauty no less splendid than flowers in the spring. Notably, this flower blossoms vividly under thick dense fir trees, allowing researchers the opportunity to admire the beauty of red leaves and flowers while collecting panda feces.
As its Chinese name suggests, the primrose(“spring-heralding flower”) announces the coming of spring. In March as winter fades away and transformed to early spring, members of the primrose family bloom stealthily in the dead grass. They are often ground at the edge of forests or bordering streams. Grassy meadows may have them growing alone in single stalks or gathered in clusters with other primrose, arrayed in a beautiful bouquet.
- Dove Tree
If there is a plant that is comparable to the giant panda in every aspect, the most probable candidate would be the dove tree. Like the giant pan- da, the dove tree has a long and rich history, can only be found in west China, and is among the first batch of trees to be listed National Class I protection Plants. Every spring, flowers shaped like doves stand on the branches of die tree and give this plant its name.
- East Asian Pleione
East Asian pleione is an epiphytic species growing on mossy rock walls and surfaces of large trees. The plant’s beautiful red color appears particularly mesmerizing in the damp surroundings. Furthermore, each East Asian pleione plant only yields one large flower, grows one piece of leaf, and when the flower withers, only one fruit is borne. As the Chinese saying goes, “one stream and one valley make a world; one flower and one leaf make an orchid”.