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Taking our understanding of the elusive Sclater's monal to new heights

By Yang Yang | China Daily | Updated: 2022-05-26 08:58
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Wang Bin uses his camera to record the life of endangered species in the Gaoligong Mountains. [Photo provided to China Daily]

On April 8, 2015, Wang Bin, 43, from the Gaoligong National Nature Reserve and Gao Ge, a graduate student from Southwest Forestry University started climbing the Gaoligong Mountains from Jinman village, in the company of a local guide.

Located in Nujiang Lisu autonomous prefecture in Yunnan province, the village sits halfway up the steep mountain, 2,000 meters above sea level.

In the following two days, the three trudged through snow to their destination at an altitude of 3,500 meters-an observation point of Lophophorus sclateri, also known as Sclater's monal, an endangered bird native to the Gaoligong Mountains.

They stayed at a base station for the observation point, but to reach the actual location to view the birds, they needed to climb a further 200 meters each day.

The guide, who loved spirits, took 50 centiliters of baijiu with him. He poured some out to pay his tribute to the mountain and drank the rest.

"The mountain was very steep. We pitched our plastic tents just by a cliff because that's the only flat ground we could find. It was only about seven to eight square meters. We were worried that our guide would get drunk and fall off the cliff, which dropped, precipitously, 100 meters down," says Wang, director of science popularization and education with the management and protection branch of the reserve in Lushui city.

From north to south, the Gaoligong Mountains extend over 600 kilometers, with Gawagapu at an altitude of 5,128 meters standing as the highest peak, while the lowest is about 760 meters.


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