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ref:topbtw-1200.html/ 30 Marzo 2018/A

Gli Animali Rari
Chinese Rare Animals

Cina: da un posto qualsiasi..

As spring comes closer, nature and animals all come back to life.

People start walking their dogs outside more frequently, cats peek outside the windows, and butterflies and bees fly from flower to flower.

But I want to edge away from the common every-day animals we see, and want to talk about the animals we don't see much, the ones which are endangered.
And specifically, the ones who are so endangered that their only haven is China.

This is very much inspired by the Disney documentary 'Born in China', where it follows the lives of a few animals in China, some of which I will be covering in this article.

Giant Panda

The giant panda is probably the first animal you think of when you think of Chinese rare animals, and are considered national treasures.

1,600 live in the wild, and about 100 in zoos around the world.
They were thought to be rare and noble creatures in the past, so much that an Empress called Dowager Bo was buried with a panda skull in her vault.

Nowadays, pandas live in the mountainous central China, and are very solitary.
They have a heightened sense of smell to detect other pandas, and they even try to avoid them until they're ready to mate.
Babies are born in the spring, they're blind and develop their popular black-white fur pattern later in life.

Pandas eat for 12 hours, about 12.5 kg of bamboo, and relieve theselves dozens of times a day.
Although that it it's main diet, pandas will sometimes eat birds or rodents.
Fortunately, efforts from animal charities worldwide have been crucial to helping the panda population grow, and it has now been moved from 'endangered' to 'vulnerable' on the global list of species at risk of extinction.

South China Tiger

Tigers are fierce predators, and their fur perfectly blends with its habitat.
The South China Tiger is the smallest sub-species, and it stalks its prey silently, before pouncing on it and breaking its neck.

It may chase the prey, but it prefers to make its kill with least struggle and pain as possible.
It mainly eats boars, deer and wild pigs, consuming 18 to 40 kilograms in each meal.

This sub-species occupied Central and Eastern China.
There was an estimate amount of 4,000 individuals in the early 1950s, but most were killed in the next few decades.

Driven to the brink of extinction because of poaching and loss of habitat, it is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

There have been estimates of about 20 tigers in the wild as there were some indications and unconfirmed reports in Hubei, Yihuang, and Qizimei Nature Reserve.

The reality is that there hasn't been an official sighting in over two decades, with about 50 held captive in zoos.

Numerous organizations are doing everything in their power to find and increase the population of South China Tigers.

Crested Ibis

The crested ibis is a symbol of luck and happiness for the Chinese people because of its elegance when it flies.

They are solitary and fly in small groups, and they lived in forests and wetlands such as rice fields and streams.
They used to be widely distributed in East Asia, including East China, Japan, Russia (Former Soviet Union) and North Korea, but its population has radically decreased since the 20th century because of loss of habitat.

The last crested ibis died in Japan, and the species was on the verge of extinction in China.
But then, just as hope had been lost, a small group of seven wild Crested Ibises were discovered in the Shaanxi Province in 1981, the only ones left in the world.

There have been great efforts since then, and now the crested ibis population in China has been raised to about 2,000, making the species not so endangered anymore.

Unfortunately, more and more species and becoming endangered, and these are only the top three rarest in China.
For this reason, charities such as the WWF work to increase endangered species population, and there are also local charities in China which help preserve and protect the habitat of endangered species native to the country.

Cortesia di L.B.

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