Top 8 Endangered Wild Animals to See in China and Where to See Them

Written by Matteo Updated Apr. 4, 2021

China is a country where there are a large number of wild animals, such as giant pandas, Crested Ibis, Snub-Nosed Monkey, South China Tiger, and other rare and precious animals. 

Now, it is impossible to see these endangered animals in the original in-habitation areas in the wild. People can only see them mainly in the natural preservation areas.

1. Giant Panda

The giant panda is China's national animal. Giant pandas are no longer classified as endangered animals but are still vulnerable. They inhabit bamboo forests in the mountains of central and western China.

Chengdu is the best place to see giant pandas in China. There are several breeding and research places in and around the city, such as the National Nature Reserve, Shennongjia National Nature Reserve. If you want to get close to them, travel with us to join a Panda Keeper Program.

giant panda
Giant Panda

2. Snub-Nosed Monkey/Golden Monkey

Snub-nosed monkeys, also called golden monkeys, are one of the rare and precious animals in the world. There are four species of Golden monkey in the world and three of them inhabit China and are under the State’s first-class protection.

These monkeys inhabit Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi provinces. Yunnan Golden Monkey has white fur on both sides of its face, mainly inhabiting Yunnan, Sichuan, and eastern Tibet. Guizhou Golden Monkey has an oval-shaped area of white fur between shoulders, inhabits areas between Guizhou and Sichuan provinces.  Read more details on Golden Monkey in China

Snub-Nosed Monkey, China golden monkey
Snub-Nosed Monkey

3. Chinese Red-Crowned Crane

The red-crowned crane is a large crane that is named after the red crown on its head.  The red-crowned crane, as one of the bird species, is peculiar to East Asia, implying good luck, fidelity, and longevity for its graceful posture and distinct color.

The main breeding grounds of red-crowned cranes are the coastal wetlands, such as Yancheng City in Jiangsu Province in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and Songnen Plain (mainly in Jilin Province and the Qiqihar City of Heilongjiang Province) in Northeast China. Besides, there are a few wild ones in Yunnan Province. 

Red-crowned cranes go through the winter in the Southeast coastal area of China, the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, Korean Bay, and Japan. Read more information on Chinese Red-Crowned Crane

4. Crested Ibis

The crested ibis is a rare and precious species in the world. Crested ibis’ head is partially bare, showing its red skin, and it has a dense crest of white willow leaf-like plumes on the nape, a long down-curved beak, and white plumages mixed with pink.

In history, crested ibis was widely distributed in East Asia, including East China, Japan, Russia, and North Korea. Since the middle of the 20th century, the population of the Crested Ibises has reduced rapidly due to the change of the inadaptable environment caused by human activities. Since then, great efforts have been made on the protection and scientific research of Crested Ibises and noticeable achievements have been made in these fields.

You can watch the crested ibis in Zhuhuan Nature Reserve in Hanzhong of Shaanxi Province and the Snub-Nosed Monkey distributed in Guangzhou Zoo.

5. South China Tiger

South China tiger, also named Chinese Tiger or Xiamen Tiger, is native to the forests of central and southern China and peculiar to China. It is one of the smallest tiger subspecies in the world.

South China Tiger is the most critically endangered tiger of any other subspecies of living tiger. In China, it is estimated that there are 20 to 30 of these tigers live in the wild. Only fewer than 90 South China Tigers in captivity, which are distributed in over 10 zoos across the country, including Shanghai Wild Animal Park and Guangzhou Zoo. It is under the State’s first-class protection. 

south china tiger
South China Tiger

6. Chinese Sturgeon

The Chinese sturgeon is one of the oldest species of fish whose earliest fossils date back to the Cretaceous period. They can grow to more than 4 meters (13 feet) in length, ranking them the largest sturgeon in the world.

The Chinese sturgeon is thought to be the species most at risk that is strictly protected by the Chinese government. They inhabit the East China Sea and the South China Sea. Each summer, they would head to the Yangtze River to reproduce. 

You can see the Chinese sturgeon and learn about its history at the Chinese Sturgeon Museum, which is part of the Chinese Sturgeon Research Center. The museum is located on an island in the Huangbo River near the Three Gorges Dam. 

Chinese Sturgeon
Chinese Sturgeon

7. Chinese Giant Salamanders

Chinese giant salamanders are the largest amphibians in the world. They can grow to more than 1.8 meters (6 feet) long and weigh up to 70 kilograms. It has lived since the era of dinosaurs which dates back 170 million years. Thus it has been given the moniker of "living fossil".

Chinese giant salamanders are critically endangered due to habitat destruction and climate change. Many natural reservations were created for the protection of Chinese giant salamanders. 

You can see salamanders at the Beijing Zoo, Shanghai Zoo, and Shanghai Aquarium. 

8. Asian Elephant

The Asian elephant is the continent's largest terrestrial mammal. They can reach more than 6 meters in length and weigh 5 tonnes. Asian elephants inhabit forests and grasslands in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. 

In China, the Asian elephant lives in Xishuangbanna, Lincang, and Simao of southern Yunnan. They are under first-level protection. Several national and regional reserves have been established to protect them.

If you want to closely observe Asian elephants, you can go to the Wild Elephant Vally which is located in Xishuangbanna. You can wander in the rainforest and discover the natural habitat of Asian elephants. 

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