With a vast territory, a rich topography — with many mountains and rivers, abundant wetlands and plants — and a range of climates, China plays an important role in preserving and protecting the genetic material of the wild.
China is the fourth richest country for bird species, after three Amazonian countries: Brazil (No. 1), Peru (2), and Colombia (3).
China has about 4,400 species of vertebrates, including 1,460 bird species [March 2016], over 430 species of mammals, 208 species of reptiles, and over 2,300 species of fish.
In the year 2000, of 9,800 bird species worldwide, around 1,250 species were known in China. (Figures vary between 1,244 [Zheng Zuoxing, 1994] and 1,253 [Cheng Tso Hsin, 2000], or between 1,260 and 1,329 [MacKinnon, 2000].) So, since 2000, around 200 species have been discovered in China.
Recently discovered/split bird species include the Nonggang Babbler and Chinese grassbird in Guangxi Province.
About 100 species of birds only exist in China, including the crested ibis (Niopponia Nippon in Yangxian, Shaanxi Province), the brown eared pheasant (Crossoptilon mantchuricum in the region of Huanglongshan, Shaanxi Province), and Cabot's tragopan (Tragopan caboti in Southeast China).
Of all the 15 species of cranes, nine live in China, like the Siberian crane (Grus leucogeranus), the black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis), and the red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis).
Bird Reserves in China
Today there are more than 50 bird reserves in China, including Qinghai Lake and Swan Lake in Xinjiang, Zhalong in Heilongjiang, Xianghai in Jilin, Wuliangsuhai in Inner Mongolia, Poyang Lake in Jiangxi, Yancheng (wetland) in Jiangsu, Caohai Lake in Guizhou; as well as bird flight routes, such as Beidaihe in Hebei and Beihai in Guangxi.