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Qiangtang National Nature Reserve is located in the north of Tibet Autonomous Region. With a total area of 247.12 thousands square kilometers, it is the second biggest nature reserve in China. With an average altitude of more than 5,000 meters, it is the highest nature reserve in the world.
Qiangtang National Nature Reserve was approved to build by the government of Tibet Autonomous Region in 1993 and was promoted to national nature reserve on April 4, 2000. its administration is affiliated with Shuanghu Special Administration Region, Nyima County, Amdo County, Bainggoin County, Xainza County in Naqu Prefecture and many villages in 6 counties such as Gerze County in Ngari Prefecture.
Nearly 20,000 herdsmen and more than 1 million domestic animals live in the protected area. These pastures are mainly distributed in the experimental area and the southern buffer zone. The core area and the northern buffer zone of the protected area are still no man’s land and are home to wild animals.
"Qingtang” is Tibetan, meaning “the northern wilderness”. Located in the hinterland of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, "the roof of the world", and with an average elevation of 5,000 meters, it is sparse vegetation, inconvenient transportation, and few people, so the northern Qiangtang has been known as “no man’s land”. Surrounded by four mountains with 5000-7000 meters above sea level, such as the Kunlun Mountains, the Karakorum Mountains, the Gangdise Mountains and the Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains, Qiangtang keeps the unique alpine ecosystem and boasts open interior and is scattered with lakes. Alpine grassland biology is lower production but vast area, so food is still adequate. And because of ice and snow melting, many rivers and salt lakes offer the drinking water and salt to wild animals.
The total area of lakes in Qiangtang National Nature Reserve is over 25,000 square kilometers that is 25 percent of the total area of all lakes in China. Besides, the reserve is a highland lake region with the largest number of lakes and the highest lake surface in the world. According to statistics, there are nearly 500 lakes with an area of more than 1 square kilometers and more than 300 lakes with an area of more than 5 square kilometers in Qiantang. Among them, the larger lakes include Nam Tso (1920 square kilometers), Serlin Tso (1640 square kilometers), and Zharinanmu Tso (1023 square kilometers), etc. And the surface of these lakes is more than 1000 km².
The Qiangtang area is the area where modern plateau glaciers are distributed most widely in China, including the Nyenchen Tanglha Mountain Modern Glacier, the Qiangtang Plateau Modern Glacier, the Tanglha Mountain Modern Glacier, and the Kunlun Mountain Modern Glacier. With a total area of more than 25,000 square kilometers, these glaciers are mainly distributed in the east, south, north, and central areas of the Qiangtang Plateau. The existence of a large number of glaciers not only shaped the strange landscape of the Qiangtang, but also ensured the supply of the surface water and underground water of the plateau.
In a word, the glaciers, snow-capped mountains, rivers and many plateau plants in Qiangtang provide the energy and space for the Tibetan herdsmen and plateau wildlife.
The Qiangtang National Nature Reserve has a cold and dry climate, thin air and a harsh natural environment. The annual and daily temperature change greatly and its annual average temperature is mostly below zero degree. The average annual precipitation is 50-300 mm, more than 80% of which is concentrated in June to September, but mostly in the form of solid precipitation such as snow, maggots, and hail. The lighting conditions are sufficient, and the annual sunshine hours are from 2800 to 3400 hours.
With rich variety of rare wild animals, Qiangtang National Nature Reserve has 10 first class national protection of wild animals and 21 second class national protection of wild animals, so it is known as "wild animal paradise". Most of the animals living in Qiangtang are unique and endangered wild animals on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Tibetan Wild Ass, Tibetan Antelopes, and Wild Yaks are known as the "three great families" in Qiangtang. There are many national second class protected animals, such as Procapra Picticaudata, Argali, Blue Sheep, Lynx, Otocolobus Manul, Tibetan Snowcock, and so on. However, there are many common animals, such as Syrrhaptes Tibetanus, Columba Rupestris, Ursus Arctos Pruinosus, Grus Nigricollis, Vulpes Ferrilata, Lepus Oiostolus, snow finches, etc. Anser Indicus, Chroicocephalus Brunnicephalus and many other waterfowls have large numbers. The endemic fishes on the plateau in the reserve include Schizothoracin and Naked Carp.
The Qiangtang National Nature Reserve is the core and main part of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and is the region with the most concentration of wildlife, and is the highest plateau in the world with the worst weather conditions. There are hundreds of thousands of particular plateau wildlife. At the same time, it is the birthplace of the oldest elephant culture in Tibet, and also the birthplace of major Asian rivers such as the Yangtze River, Mekong River, Salween River, and Yellow Rivers.
The Qiangtang National Nature Reserve has been listed as the prior area for Tibet's biodiversity protection, and has also been listed as a priority area for ecosystem protection under the China Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan. The establishment of the Qiangtang National Nature Reserve will play an important role in protecting the diversity of Tibetan species and resources and has global significance for preserving the region's integrity and unique alpine ecosystem and various large ungulates.