A Giant Panda in China's Qinling Mountains. Credit: VCG photo.

China’s stunning Qinling Mountains, a natural boundary between the country’s north and south, has made prominent improvements in wildlife protection in recent years.

Located mainly in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, they cover more than 50,000 square kilometers and are known as China’s gene bank of wild biology as it houses a huge variety of plants and wild animals, Xinhua reported.

Data from the local forestry bureau show the mountain range is home to about 3,800 kinds of seed plants and 587 wild animal species, of which 112 are mammals, 418 are birds, 39 are reptiles and 18 are amphibians.

Giant pandas, golden monkeys, takin and crested ibises, all listed as national first-class protected species, are the four most representative species in the Qinling Mountains.

In 1981, there were only seven crested ibises in the region. Now their population has soared to more than 3,500, of which over 3,100 live in the wild. Their habitat area at present has totaled 3,600 square kilometers.

The number of wild pandas has increased from 109 in the 1980s to 345, and the population of takin and golden monkeys have reached 4,000 and 5,000, respectively, thanks to an improved environment, strengthened protection efforts and tough crackdown on crimes related to wild animals.

A Golden Monkey is one of the protected species in China’s Qinling Mountains. Credit: VCG photo.

“The Qinling Mountains are home to 33 nature reserves with a combined area to the tune of 5,667 square kilometers, equivalent to one-tenth of the total area of the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi,” said Dang Shuangren, director of the provincial forestry bureau.

“Our hard work in ecological and environmental protection over the decades has created a sound living environment for wildlife in the mountains.”

In October 2017, after over two decades of preparation, the Qinling National Botanical Garden officially opened, becoming the first national-level botanical garden in China.

Located at the northern foot of the Qinling Mountains in Zhouzhi County, about 70 km from downtown Xi’an, the provincial capital, the garden covers an area of 639 square kilometers, and is by far the largest botanical garden on the planet.

The garden is a haven for biodiversity and ecological protection. It spans from 480 meters to 3,000 meters above sea level and is composed of five landforms from north to south — plains, hills, low mountains, middle mountains and high mountains.

The takin, also called cattle chamois or gnu goat, can be found in China’s Qinling Mountains. Credit: VCG photo.

It is not only at the forefront of China’s research on ecological conservation, but also a window to show visitors how splendid nature is.

In the meantime, a giant panda national park spanning three provinces — Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu — is also under construction to help the endangered animals mingle and enrich their gene pool, of which the Qingling Mountain range is one of their major habitats.

The park will cover 27,134 square kilometers, three times the area of America’s Yellowstone National Park. It will have a core area protecting pandas in 67 current reserves as well as another 8,000 endangered animals and plants.

“The national park will provide a safer living territory for wildlife in the Qinling Mountains,” said Dang.

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