Animal tales

19 Aug

China is a large country, which albeit heavily populated has a lot of open space and features diverse types of animals including tigers, leopards and elephants, as well as the famous panda. So it’s a little surprising, or maybe not, but definitely unfortunate that there are not many national parks where one can see these animals. Yes, there are zoos and safari parks, some of which are infamous for feeding of live prey to tigers and lions, but there are no natural preserves for tigers. China has three types of tigers – the Siberian, the IndoChina and the Southern tiger, the last two being virtually extinct in the wild in the nation.

To save the latter, there is a project that took some and raised and bred them in a preserve in South Africa. After 10 years, the tigers are expected to be brought back to China and introduced into the wild. This being China, there are some complications with the project, including bureaucratic shortcuts and problems with the charity that organized it, not to mention the breakup of the couple who ran the charity, to the point where some speculate it could be a scam. However, another major problem is that there isn’t any large appropriate reserve or budget to do so, since it is hard to find a large enough area of wilderness in Southern China where tigers and their prey could live naturally.

China also has elephants, but only in southern Yunnan province, which borders Southeast Asia, and only in one main area – Xishuangbanna, in the far south of the province. Interestingly enough, these Asian elephants have increased in numbers as they are well protected, though this does have adverse effects on human residents in nearby areas. For a weird but happy story, see this one about four elephants who were given drugs by traffickers, then rescued and rehabilitated and weaned off of their heroin “addiction.”

There are a few places to see China’s special animals with most being in the Northwest and Southwest regions. And Sichuan is not the only province to see the giant panda, nor is its panda the only kind of giant panda.

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