Monday, December 31, 2018

Moon Bear Bonanza!


Greetings Everyone,
The last leg of our Chinese mammal-watching extravaganza was a visit to Tangjiahe Nature Reserve. It was a long transfer to Tangjiahe but we made good time to Chengdu where we dropped off Erling. Sadly he wouldn’t be joining us in Tangjiahe. We stopped in the town of Qingxi for dinner and were entertained by the owner making fresh noodles for our soup.

Making Noodles

We finally arrived in Tangjiahe well after dark and took the opportunity to do a bit of spotlighting along the main road. We saw our first Takin and several Reeves' Muntjac along the way. The Takin is a big draw for the reserve. It’s a strange looking beast resembling a cross between a goat and an antelope. The Takin is considered vulnerable by the IUCN due to overhunting and habitat loss. In China, it is listed as endangered and is protected by law.

Takin

After checking into our very comfortable hotel, we walked along a trail above the river. We saw more Takin, Reeves' Muntjac and our first Northern Hog Badger. Care had to be taken when returning to our hotel room as the Takin like to graze on the hotel lawns. They can get quite ornery if you surprise one but we had no such encounters.

Northern Hog Badger

We didn’t get up early for the following morning’s walk so missed close encounters with a Masked Palm Civet and Northern Hog Badger. We vowed to drag ourselves out of bed on subsequent mornings. My disappointment was soon forgotten when I spotted a large dark shape in a tree across the river. Through my binoculars, I could see that it was an Asiatic Black Bear, a lifer for us! Also called a Moon Bear because of the white V-shaped marking on its chest, the Asiatic Black Bear is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN mainly due to hunting for bear bile. In this case, the medicinal value of bear bile is real owing to the active ingredient of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA). In controlled, clinical trials UDCA has been shown to have many of the medicinal properties claimed by traditional Chinese medicine such as reducing fever and inflammation, detoxifying the liver, arresting convulsions, improving eyesight, and dissolving gallstones. Although a synthetic alternative is available many Chinese prefer bear bile as it is believed to be more effective. To reduce the pressure on wild bear populations, China and several other Asian countries now have Asiatic Black Bears farms were bile is extracted from live bears, a practice that is harmful to the bears and creates a demand for wild cubs to restock these farms. The best solution is to convince consumers that synthetic UDCA is just as effective as bear bile and that purchasing living bear UDCA is morally wrong.


Asiatic Black Bear

We rushed to get the rest of the group as they had wandered off to wait for the bus into the reserve. They were just as ecstatic as us and for most of the group, this too was their first Asiatic Black Bear. We crossed the river on the footbridge to get a closer view and some photos. After snapping many, we left the bear in peace to continue feeding on fruits.

We took the next bus high into the reserve spotting a troupe of Tibetan Macaques along the way. We walked back along the road on high alert for Golden Snub-nosed Monkeys. Phil spotted two high up on a distant ridge but the rest of the group missed them. We joined Roland and Sarah on a mission to climb the ridge to locate them. It was very steep going with a lot of tree-grabbing to hoist ourselves up. When we arrived close to the top the monkeys were nowhere to be seen but it was a grand adventure nonetheless.

Climbing the Ridge

After lunch, we took a bus back into the reserve and were dropped off at the rangers’ station. We had reports that a Tufted Deer was hanging out there. Sure enough, a habituated individual emerged from the bushes and wandered to a plate of rice that the rangers had left for it. This deer is native to China and is hunted by locals so we were lucky to great views of this species that is normally difficult to see.

Tufted Deer

After dinner, we went on our first proper night drive. We spotted Takin, Chinese Goral, Northern Hog Badger, our only Chinese Serow (in this reserve) and a tiny bat hanging from a limestone cliff. Phil thought that is was a Japanese or Chinese Pipistrelle but bats are tough to identify.

Pipistrelle

We did join the early morning walk but the Northern Hog Badger that was so obliging yesterday was nowhere to be found. We spotted Takin and Reeves' Muntjac only. Today we opted to explore another part of the reserve since a large number of dignitaries had arrived for the annual “Fall Foilage Celebration”. We drove down the road and took a public bus to the start of our hike up the Motainling Valley. There was a large group of Chinese tourists but we soon left them behind as we started the climb. Birds were the star today as the mammals remained elusive. Roland was on the hunt for Temminck’s Tragopan and took us off-trail to find them. Sadly, no such luck. We returned to the main trail where a Chinese woman desperately sought our attention. She excitedly pointed to her iPhone and then to the bushes. I rushed up to her and saw that she had a beautiful photo of a Temminck’s Tragopan. We searched the area and Marc was able to get a decent shot.

Temminck’s Tragopan

We continued to the top to the ridge to scan for mammals. Sometimes Giant Pandas are seen here but we weren’t so lucky. The stunning view of the Motainling Valley was ample reward for our efforts.

Motainling Valley

We did another night drive after dinner seeing the same cast of characters but Roland did find us a new species, a Malayan Porcupine.

Malayan Porcupine

We were rewarded for getting out of bed early the next morning with a beautiful Leopard Cat sitting on a grassy slope across the river! We finally got a prolonged view and good photos of this feline who had been eluding us on this trip.

Leopard Cat

After breakfast, we returned to “Red Leaf Valley” to resume our search for the Golden Snub-nosed Monkeys. We failed in our attempt so in the afternoon we decided to follow up on a lead and go to the Defense Pass Trail where there were reports of sightings. We didn't see any monkeys but found the famous “Watch out for The Rolling Stones” sign.

"Watch out for The Rolling Stones"

On the way back down, we ran into our driver who was very excited about something. He kept pointing across the valley. Finally, we spotted an Asiatic Black Bear feeding high in a tree. Amazing, two Asiatic Black Bears on the same trip! The rest of our group was already onto the bear. It wasn’t as close as our first encounter but it was still fun to observe the bear feeding. As we were watching a second bear, then a third bear appeared. Incredibly, this was a sow with two cubs! What a rare privilege to see not one but four Moon Bears in the reserve. We hope Tangjiahe remains a safe haven for these beleaguered bears.

Asiatic Black Bear

We returned to the hotel thrilled with our astounding luck. In the dining room that night Phil told Brad Josephs who was leading a Natural Habitat Adventures group about our encounter with the bears. We met Brad in Churchill, Manitoba in 2012 while we were searching for Polar Bears. What a small world! Brad would take his group to hopefully see the bears in the morning.

We went on our final night drive after dinner seeing mainly the same mammals: Takin, Reeve’s Muntjac, Chinese Goral, Masked Palm Civet, Northern Hog Badger, another Malayan Porcupine, and Marc was finally able to get a photo of a Confucian Niviventer.

Confucian Niviventer

On the morning of October 27, we checked out of the hotel for the long drive back to Chengdu. A group of Tibetan Macaques was raiding the trash cans and one cheeky individual stole a bag of oranges from a Chinese woman.

Tibetan Macaque Raiding a Trash Can

On the way out we stopped at Defense Pass where the Natural Habitat Adventures group was just leaving. They had seen an incredible 5 Asiatic Black Bears, 3 adults, and 2 cubs! They had moved off so we missed the show. We weren’t at all disappointed having seen four bears ourselves. We didn’t arrive in Chengdu until 8:00 pm. Our amazing 6-week trip to Mongolia and China was coming to an end. What a successful journey it has been having logged nearly 60 species of mammals (see list below) in China alone. Many of these animals are endangered and were lifers for us. It is our sincere hope that the unique wildlife of China can continue to survive in areas that are seeing more and more human encroachment. As the standard of living for so many Chinese continues to improve so too should their commitment to protecting their incredible natural heritage increase. 

Our sincere thanks to Phil Benstead and Roland Ziedler for showing us the many wonders of Labahe and Tangjiahe Nature Reserves! 
We hope all is well with everyone.
Peggy and Marc

    China Mammal List: September 26 - October 27, 2018

 No.    Species Scientific Name  Notes
 1Tibetan Macaque Macaca thibetana Labahe & Tangjiahe 
 2Red and White Giant Flying Squirrel Petaurista alborufus Labahe
 3Complex-toothed Flying Squirrel Trogopterus xanthipes Labahe
 4 Swinhoe’s Striped SquirrelTamiops swinhoeiLabahe
 5Père David's Rock Squirrel Sciurotamias davidianus Ruoergai & Tangjiahe 
 6Groove-toothed Flying Squirrel Aeretes melanopterusRuoergai 
 7Himalayan MarmotMarmota himalayanaRuoergai  & Qinghai 
 8Malayan Porcupine Hystrix brachyuraTangjiahe 
 9[Chinese Zokor]Eospalax fontanieriiRuoergai  (dead)
 10Confucian NiviventerNiviventer confucianusLabahe & Tangjiahe 
 11Blyth’s VolePhaiomys leucurusQinghai 
 12Tibetan Dwarf HamsterCricetulus alticolaWenquan Pass, Qinghai 
 13Midday JirdMeriones meridianusChaka, Qinghai 
 14Moupin PikaOchotona thibetanaBaixha, Qinghai 
 15Black-lipped PikaOchotona curzoniaeRuoergai  & Qinghai 
 16Glover’s PikaOchotona gloveriSouth of Yushu, Qinghai 
 17Tsingling PikaOchotona huangensisHuzhu, Qinghai 
 18Gansu PikaOchotona cansusHuashixia, Qinghai 
 19Woolly HareLepus oiostolusRuoergai & Qinghai 
 20Japanese or Chinese Pipistrelle pipistrelle sp.Tangjiahe 
 21Pallas’s CatOtocolobus manul4 in Ruoergai  & 1 in Qinghai 
 22Chinese Mountain CatFelis Bieti2 in Ruoergai  
 23Leopard CatPrionailurus bengalensis1 in Labahe & 1 in Tangjiahe 
 24[Snow Leopard]Panthera unciaTracks on the Er La, Qinghai 
 25Tibetan WolfCanis lupus filchneri6 in Ruoergai  & 10 in Qinghai 
 26Tibetan FoxVulpes ferrilataRuoergai  & Qinghai 
 27Red FoxVulpes vulpesRueorgai & Qinghai 
 28Asiatic Black BearUrsus thibetanus1 & sow w/2 cubs in Tangjiahe 
 29Red PandaAilurus fulgensAt least 3 individuals in Labahe 
 30[Giant Panda]Ailuropoda melanoleucaDujiangyan Panda Center
 31Asian BadgerMeles leucurus2 seen in Ruoergai  
 32Northern Hog BadgerArctonyx albogularisTangjiahe 
 33Mountain WeaselMustela altaica2 in Qinghai 
 34Siberian WeaselMustela sibirica1 unconfirmed in Labahe 
 35Steppe PolecatMustela eversmanii1 in Ruoergai  
 36KiangEquus kiangQinghai 
 37Wild BoarSus scrofaTangjiahe 
 38Reeves' Muntjac Muntiacus reevesiTangjiahe 
 39Forest Musk DeerMoschus berezovskii4 in Labahe
 40Alpine Musk DeerMoschus chrysogaster1 in Huzhu, Qinghai 
 41Siberian Roe DeerCapreolus pygargusRuoergai  & Huzhu, Qinghai 
 42Sika DeerCervus nippon1 in Ruoergai  
 43Tufted DeerElaphodus cephalophus1 in Tangjiahe 
 44[Altai Wapati]Cervus canadensis sibiricusIntroduced to Labahe 
 45Kansu WapitiCervus canadensis kansuensis Dulan Mts. in Qinghai 
 46MacNeill’s Wapiti Cervus canadensis macneilli“Greentours Valley”, Qinghai 
 47White-lipped DeerCervus albirostrisQinghai 
 48SambarRusa unicolorLabahe
 49Goitered GazelleGazella subgutturosaQaidam Basin, Qinghai 
 50Tibetan Gazelle Procapra picticaudataChang Tang, Qinghai 
 51Przewalski's gazelleProcapra przewalskii41 near Koko Nor, Qinghai 
 52Tibetan Antelope (Chiru)Pantholops hodgsoniiChang Tang, Qinghai 
 53Wild YakBos mutusChang Tang, Qinghai 
 54TakinBudorcas taxicolorTangjiahe 
 55Chinese SerowCapricornis milneedwardsiiBaixha & Tangjiahe 
 56Chinese GoralNaemorhedus griseusLabahe & Tangjiahe 
 57ArgaliOvis ammonZhiduo, Qinghai 
 58Blue SheepPseudois nayaurQinghai & Ruoergai  

Our route map:



Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Red Pandas of Labahe

Greetings Everyone,
After a very successful trip to the Tibetan Plateau, we flew back to Chengdu to embark on the next leg of our journey a visit to Labahe Nature Reserve. We said goodbye to our trip leader Jesper Hornskov and picked up a new guide, Roland Ziedler for our extensions to Labahe and Tangjiahe Nature Reserves. Labahe is a 6-hour drive to the southwest of Chengdu and we didn’t arrive until the night of October 19. Despite the long drive some of us were eager to search for mammals so we grabbed our torches and went on a night walk up the road. A light drizzle was falling but the animal viewing was quite good. We encountered some very tame deer on the road which at first we thought were Sambar but they turned out to be Altai Wapiti introduced recently from a deer farm. We also saw Chinese Goral, Chinese Serow, Red-and-White Flying Squirrel and a Forest Musk Deer, a lifer for both Roland and Phil.

Altai Wapiti

We left very early the next morning as we had permission to enter the reserve early to avoid the masses of Chinese tourists who were sure to arrive later. Located in the Hengduan Mountains, Labahe Nature Reserve is one of the best places in China to see Red Pandas. The vegetation and altitude of the reserve make it the perfect habitat for the Red Panda. We drove up in darkness spotting only a single Sambar. It was still too early for Red Panda so we hiked up to Azalea Lake. On the way, we spotted our first Swinhoe’s Striped Squirrel and at the lake was another Forest Musk Deer. We returned to the main road and climbed higher when Phil spotted a Red Panda feeding in a nearby tree! At this time of year, the pandas come down from the higher elevations to gorge themselves on berries to fatten up for the upcoming winter. Our group enjoyed great views at a responsible distance and took many photos.

Red Panda

After dinner, we went on a night drive. We drove up the road which ended at a high-end resort that was all lit up with kissing swans, a rainbow-colored waterfall and a Christmas tree! It was very surreal. Sadly, Labahe is turning into more of an amusement park for Chinese tourists complete with a zip-line, obstacle course, cable car and of course this "Vegas-styled" resort.

Kissing Swans

We drove back down the road seeing more mammals including Masked Palm Civets, Complex-toothed Flying Squirrel, Chinese Goral, Sambar, Red and White Giant Flying Squirrel, and Confucian Niviventer. It was nice knowing that somehow wildlife was able to coexist with all the development that was going on to amuse humans.

Chinese Goral

The next morning our special permission to enter the reserve early in our own bus was revoked and we had to wait and enter with the other tourists on a public bus. Unfortunately, a beautiful male Lady Amherst’s Pheasant was spotted by Erling but being on a public bus we couldn’t stop and we missed it completely. We were driven to the top of the road where the cable car rides were just getting underway. We walked down the road on the lookout for Red Pandas but saw none. We made it down to the “zip-line road” and started the climb back up to make a second pass for pandas. Sarah and Cathy spotted a Swinhoe’s Striped Squirrel close by and we got good views and photos.

Swinhoe’s Striped Squirrel

We resumed our climb when Sarah spotted something in a tree far up the road. To our amazement, it was a Red Panda, a great find! He was lying in the open on a branch and there was a clearing where we could get off the road and set up our scopes and cameras to view and photograph the panda. We watched the panda sleep, groom and feed for almost an hour. This fellow (I’m assuming it was a male) had a tattered right ear while the panda we saw yesterday had an intact right ear so this was a different individual.

Red Panda

Red Pandas are endangered mainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation. 98% of their diet consists of bamboo and pandas are exposed to other threats when they have to cross unsuitable habitat to find new stands of bamboo. Red Pandas are also susceptible to canine distemper which is fatal to them. As more people, particularly herders, encroach Red Panda habitat, contact between domestic dogs (and their excreta) and Red Pandas increases. Hunting for the pet trade seems to be increasing as they are “cute” and endearing creatures.


Red Panda

On our last day in the reserve, permission to enter early was granted and we drove to the top of the road. Our driver who had never been to Labahe before spotted our third Red Panda near the top of the road! This was the highest elevation that Roland had ever seen a Red Panda at. This individual wasn’t as obliging as the previous two and climbed down the tree and disappeared in the thick understory of bamboo.

Red Panda

We walked back down the road when suddenly Phil spotted a second Red Panda! It was “Snippy”, the panda with the missing right ear that we had seen yesterday. It was our fourth Red Panda sighting of at least three different individuals. It was great to see the pandas doing well despite the amount of human encroachment going on. As long as large tracks of forests are kept intact and people and their dogs stick to the main road, Red Pandas have a chance of surviving here.

Red Panda (Snippy)

We walked back to our bus parked at the entrance to the “zip-line road" and decided to walk to the end of the road. It was a good decision as Cathy spotted a Forest Musk Deer quite close and we got our best view yet of this hard-to-see species. Like the Red Panda, the Forest Musk Deer is endangered. It is hunted for its highly prized musk used in cosmetics.

Forest Musk Deer

We opted to walk back to the hotel and encountered some Tibetan Macaques forging naturally off the road. However further down we saw a Chinese woman being accosted by a macaque. She had food and the macaque wanted it. He grabbed her shirt and she ended up tossing her food just to get the monkey away from her. We walked past at a safe distance but the macaque bared his teeth showing his ferocious canines. Feeding the macaques makes them aggressive and dangerous. There was a sign posted along the road about not feeding them. One of the last sentences said, “if you are bitten, don’t panic, wash the wound and go to your doctor for a rabies shot”. Very disconcerting! 

Tibetan Macaque

We went for a final night walk on our own not seeing much so we headed back to the hotel. We ran into some of our group heading out for a late night drive so we joined them. I spotted a Leopard Cat sitting on the side of the road! The cat moved off before Marc could get a photo but it was our best view of a Leopard Cat yet. We also saw Masked Palm Civet, Red and White Flying Squirrel, Chinese Goral, and Sambar.

Masked Palm Civet


Red and White Flying Squirrel

The next morning we left Labahe for the long drive to Tangjiahe Nature Reserve. Despite the amount of development going on at Labahe, wildlife including some endangered species appear to be hanging on. Hopefully, the Chinese government will realize that tourists come to Labahe to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and to see mammals that are becoming increasingly difficult to find elsewhere.

Fall Foliage

Given enough space to feed, breed and find shelter most animals will do just fine. It is our sincere hope that Labahe Nature Reserve will continue to provide a safe haven for China’s Red Pandas and other amazing wildlife for many years to come!
We hope all is well with everyone.
Peggy and Marc

Our route map:

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Life on the Roof of the World, Part II

Greetings Everyone,
We’ve been exploring the Tibetan Plateau for animals and birds along with our Greentours group. We’re in Nangqian, the southernmost point on our circuit and about halfway through our journey. On the morning of October 11, we were off to visit nearby Baixha Forest Reserve. We drove down into a canyon stopping where Jesper had spotted a flock of Blue Sheep nimbly negotiating the rocky cliff above the river. The youngsters were encouraged to follow in the footsteps of their elders.

Blue Sheep

While waiting for breakfast, Jesper noticed a very obliging Glover’s Pika sitting on a log to warm up in the morning sun.

Glover’s Pika

The following day we continued our exploration of the southern end of our route in the beautiful Kanda Shan Mountains.

Kanda Shan Mountains

We were on the lookout for White-lipped Deer, a vulnerable cervid that makes these forested ridges home. We located a herd grazing on the open slopes above the road. At this time of year males and females come together for the annual rut. Males jealously guard their harem of females against competitors. 

White-lipped Deer

On October 13, we returned to the main circuit and continued toward the western reaches of our route. We stopped along the way to search for Blyth’s Voles that so far had eluded us. We found a colony but no one appeared to be home. Our patience paid off when Erling spotted a brave fellow who dared to venture above ground.

Blyth’s Vole

We stopped for lunch in the bustling town of Zhiduo where many of the locals still wear traditional dress among a backdrop of modern automobiles. Change is coming fast to the Tibetan Plateau.

Zhiduo

Just outside of town a herd of Argali, the largest wild sheep, was grazing close to the road. They were all females who are much smaller than the males with sport massive corkscrew-shaped horns. We did see a few males a long distance off. They tend to avoid humans as they are hunted for trophies leading in part to their endangered or threatened status.

Argali

One more surprise awaited us before arriving in Qumalai for the night. We were in the lead vehicle and spotted a lone Tibetan Wolf standing next to the road. He saw us and tore off at breakneck speed. Why was he so terrified? When we examined our photos later, Cathy noticed that half of his left rear leg was missing! Although hunting is banned, no doubt he was the victim of a snare set by humans. Wolves are persecuted because they kill livestock. No wonder he fled at our approach. We were happy to see that he could get around just fine on three legs.

Tibetan Wolf 

The next day it felt as if we had finally reached the “Roof of the World” and our day was full of iconic Tibetan Plateau wildlife! Early in the morning, a Tibetan Fox paused to give us a wide-eyed stare. 

Tibetan Fox

Tibetan Gazelle were plentiful and this male gave us a stunning view.

Tibetan Gazelle 

The scenery was spectacular with the Chang Tang mountains looming over the vast Tibetan Plateau.

Tibetan Plateau

Finally, Chiru or Tibetan Antelope, one of the animals I most wanted to see appeared in the grasslands along the highway! There are only 150,000 Chiru left in the world and they reside exclusively on the Tibetan Plateau. Chiru have long been hunted for their soft and warm underfur called shahtoosh. Traditionally this fine wool had been transported to Srinagar in Kashmir, where it was woven into fabric used to make shawls. It takes 3-5 hides to make a single shawl, and since the wool cannot be sheared or combed, the animals have to be killed to collect their fur. Fortunately, hunting is now controlled and the trade in India has been banned. The numbers of Chiru are slowly increasing. We set off on foot to get a closer look. As expected the antelope were wary and moved off. We noticed two males lying down and unaware of our presence. We were able to approach closely to get a great view of their impressive spiral horns and beautiful black faces.


Male Chiru

We arrived at Budongquon, a bustling truck stop at the junction with the main route from Beijing to Lhasa. We weren’t expecting to see much wildlife here but surprisingly there were many animals nearby. When we stopped for lunch, Marc and I set off on foot to check out a small herd of female Chiru a short distance away.


Female Chiru

After lunch, we went off in search of more mammals. Just outside of town a herd of Kiang was lounging right next to the road.


Herd of Kiang

Amazingly a large herd of Wild Yaks was grazing under a power line quite close to the main highway, another species that I most wanted to see! I was thrilled by our close encounter. Much larger than their domestic cousins, Wild Yaks have long shaggy black coats and in males especially, the undercoat may form a long "skirt" that can reach the ground. Horns on the males are much longer than those of domestic yaks. They are considered vulnerable by the IUCN with less than 10,000 individuals left in the wild.


Wild Yaks

What an amazing day of wildlife viewing! Jesper tallied 647 Tibetan Gazelle, 31 Tibetan Fox, 224 Kiang, 325 Tibetan Antelope, and 149 Wild Yak! 

The next day we went off to explore “Wild Yak Valley” and Jesper warned us that the gravel road may be a bit bumpy. I joked that it may very well be paved since it had been two years since Jesper had been in the valley. To our surprise, the road had been paved! More change had come to the Tibetan Plateau. While eating breakfast we heard Tibetan Wolves howling. Erling was the first to spot them on a ridge a great distance away. A pack of 7 wolves reunited with a lot of tail wagging and muzzle licking. We wanted to get a closer view but an icy river blocked our path.

Blocked by an Icy River

We opted to take a walk to look for voles instead. We found one but amazingly it was in the jaws of an Altai or Mountain Weasel!

Mountain Weasel with a Vole

There were many Woolly Hares scampering among the bushes and we finally got good views and photos.

Woolly Hare

We stopped to check out a small herd of Tibetan Gazelle. Phil and I were watching one end of the herd and completely missed the two sparring females that Marc was able to capture in an amazing photo!

Tibetan Gazelle Sparring 

The next day’s drive from Golmud to Dulan wasn’t very eventful as far as mammal viewing was concerned. We did manage to pick up a new species, Black-tailed or Goitered Gazelle. We had seen them earlier on our trip in Mongolia but these were the first spotted in China.

Black-tailed or Goitered Gazelle

On October 17 we set off on foot to explore the Dulan Mountains. We struck out on the Chinese Red Pika but Marc spotted a lone Tibetan Wolf high on a ridge. It was the rutting Kansu Wapiti that stole the show. The same species as our North American Elk (Cervus canadensis), Kansu Wapiti stags sporting massive antlers were bugling across the valley to attract potential mates. At one point 3 stags had come together ready to rumble but a serious confrontation never took place.

Kansu Wapiti Stag

During our last drive from Chaka to Xining on the Tibetan Plateau we didn’t encounter many mammals but by now we had seen so many amazing species that we were thoroughly satisfied. We were happy to see so much wildlife coexisting alongside humans and their livestock but we also realized that big changes are coming to the Tibetan Plateau. We were surprised to pass through many large cities connected by newly constructed 4-lane motorways. A high-speed rail now cuts across the plateau and there are many more herders grazing yaks, sheep, and goats on the grasslands. All this will pose new challenges to the wildlife who now have to compete with livestock for dwindling resources. Highways and rail lines cut off traditional migration routes and more people mean increased hunting or poaching. 

The Chinese Government is starting to acknowledge these threats to wildlife and hopefully will put in more controls to mitigate their harmful effects. The Tibetan Plateau is truly a magical place with animals found nowhere else on the planet. May humans find ways to coexist with these magnificent creatures!

Our sincere thanks go to our Greentours trip leaders Jesper Hornskov and Phil Benstead and to our intrepid drivers who worked hard under tough conditions to get us to all our destinations.

Our Drivers

We hope all is well with everyone.
Peggy and Marc

Our route map: