Forests in Eastern and South Eastern Tibet
Most of the rare animal and plant species make their home in the forest of eastern and Southeast Tibet because of the variety of habitats the forests belts provide and the suitable climate. Rare animals found in these forest regions are giant panda, white-lipped deer, takin, musk deer, goral, birds such as Himalayan monal, snow cock, satyr tragopan, Tibetan patridge, and blood pheasant to name a few.
According to (Du Qing, 1987) the forest of southeast Amdo are known not only for their variety, but also for their tremendous storage. For example, there are 200 year-old spruce forest in the valleys of Tramo (Ch:Bomi) county. The average diameter of the trees is 92 cm with height 57 m, the maximum storage per hectare 2000-2500 cubic meter, the average growth rate per year 10-12 cubic meter per hectare. When one of the huge plum yew tree with 7 meter in circumference fell across the road, it took more than a day for a squad of China's People's Liberation Army soldiers to cut it into half.
Chinese biologists investigation in Amdo (Ch:Qinghai) found that there are 10 million birds belonging to 200 species, which is about one-third of the bird population of Europe (Chen & Zhang, 1987). Tso-ngonpo (Kokonor lake) in Amdo alone boast ten out of fifteen recorded duck families. Kokonor lake is also rich in fish species. According to Chinese statistics total fish catch from the lake from 1957-1970 add up to some 128,500 tons.
The well-known Birds Island of Kokonor lake with only 67,000 sq. m. has four main breeding birds- bar-headed geese, great black-headed gulls, brown-headed gulls and cormorants which number about 93,7000. If the number of other birds, such as terns, snipes, is added the total number of birds will exceed 100,000.
In the so called Tibet Autonomous Region alone, there are 2,307 species of insects, 64 species of fish, 45 species of amphibian, 55 species of reptiles, 488 species of birds and 142 species of mammals. There are 163 rare, endangered and valuable species, which consist of 74 species of mammals, 79 birds, 4 reptiles, 2 amphibians, 2 fishes and 2 insects.
There are over 5000 higher plant species and 280 families. Among them woody plants total over 100 families and 300 species. Being rich in wild plants in terms of number of species and population, Metok, Tramo (Ch:Zhamu)and Kyirong are called the rare natural plant museums.
The species and abundances of wildlife are not numerous in Lhasa Region, but hundreds of black-necked cranes winter in the valley of Lhasa Kyichu River. Chamdo Region has steep valleys and rich forest cover, which provide good habitats for many wildlife species. This region is called "pheasant realm" with over ten pheasant species and golden monkey, sambar and black stocks.
The Lhoka Region is very complex in topography with dry valleys, tropical and subtropical vegetation. So there are many rare and endangered species. The Tibetan sub-species of red deer (Cervus elaphus wallichi) thrive in this region.
The valleys of Kongpo in southern Tibet are covered by sub-tropical vegetation and are rich in species diversity. Long-tailed leaf monkey and Himalayan tahr are mainly distributed in this region. Nyingtri Region (Ch: Nyingchi) of Kongpo is in the east part of Himalayas with warm and moist climate and tropical and subtropical vegetation. It is one of the richest area in wildlife diversity.
Since animals have a wider area of activity, their endemism is less obvious than plants. The endemic distribution of animal species on the Plateau is abundant. It boasts 40 endemic mammals, 60 percent of the China's total. 28 endemic birds, 2 endemic reptiles and 10 endemic amphibians.
The endemic animal species of the Tibetan Plateau mainly consist of endemic species of the moist eastern and southern fringes and the Northern Plateau. The former includes mammals such as giant panda, red panda, takin, musk deer, and various species of birds such as Tragopan, eared pheasant, Himalayan monal and others.
The Chang Thang (Northern Plateau) area host fewer endemic animal genera, including mammals like Tibetan antelope, wild yak, kyang, Himalayan marmot, Himalayan mouse-hair or Pika, Tibetan woolly hare, vole and birds like Tibetan snow-cock, Tibetan sand grouse and others.
Ngari Region is situated in the western part of Tibet, is one of main distribution range of plateau endemic wildlife species.
Copyright 1998-2005, Tibet Environmental Watch (TEW)