Hong Kong Science Museum unveils rich biodiversity in China

Life prevails in almost every possible niche on Earth, from luxuriant forests to vast deserts to volcanic crevices in deep seas. The world is beautiful because of life. China boasts a vast area with diverse land forms, complex river networks, numerous lakes and extreme climate regimes.

It has provided favourable natural conditions for the formation, development and conservation of a variety of biological and ecological systems. More than 30,000 species of plants and 2,700 species of land vertebrates can be found in China. The rich biodiversity in China is revealed to the public in an exhibition at the Hong Kong Science Museum from today (December 18) until August 31, 2010.

“Biodiversity in China – An Exhibition on China’s Wildlife Specimens”, featuring more than 400 specimens found in the Yangtze River Basin and western China, showcases the rich biological resources and unique ecosystems in China. Many of the specimens are listed as the national Grade I or Grade II protected species. The exhibition is presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and organised by the Hong Kong Science Museum.

This is also one of the celebration programmes for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC. Officiating at today’s opening ceremony were the Under Secretary for Home Affairs, Ms Florence Hui; the Deputy Director General of Publicity, Culture and Sports Department of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, Mr Liu Hanqi; the Director of Chongqing Museum of Natural History, Dr Ouyang Hui; Chairman of WWF -Hong Kong, Mr Trevor Yang; and Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Science Museum, Mr Michael Wong. Ms Hui said that urbanisation and environmental pollution had led to destruction of wildlife habitats.

The population of many species had declined drastically and some were on the verge of extinction. “In recent years, China has played a crucial role in wildlife conservation through research, establishment of nature reserves setting monitoring stations along the Yangtze River, and artificial breeding of endangered species. “We hope that the public will gain an appreciation not only of the stark beauty of the wildlife animals, but also of their critical status and the importance of environmental protection and wildlife conservation,” Ms Hui said.

The Yangtze River is the largest river in China and is also the habitat of many rare wild aquatic animals. Many of the species are endemic to China and listed as the national Grade I or II protected animals, such as the Chinese Sturgeon which is the largestand most ancient fish species in the world. Among all ecosystems in nature, wetlands are considered the most biologically diverse.

They are perfect habitats for a wide range of activities including feeding and breeding, and have therefore become havens for birds. China has extensive wetlands that are widely distributed. The wetlands are highly diversified because of differences in the natural conditions in various places.

There are a great diversity of wetland birds many species of which are rare and precious, such as the White Stork and the Red-crowned Crane. Birds living in plateaus and high mountains are distinctively different from those inhabiting wetlands or forests in terms of living habits, appearances and distribution.Plants don’t flourish easy at high altitude where the air is relatively thin and dry, and alpine birds are mostly omnivorous, such as the ferocious Golden Eagle and Bearded Vulture. Famed as “national treasure”, the Giant Panda is listed as the national Grade I protected animal and can be found only in China.

Today, there are only about 1,590 surviving wild pandas.Their habitat has shrunken to the southern slopes of the Qinling Mountains, Minshan Mountain, Qionglai Mountain, Daxiangling, Xiaoxiangling and Liang Mountains in China. All these places are teeming with wildlife and boast immense biological wealth and diversity. The Tibetan Plateau, the most expansive in the world, covers nearly 2.4 million square kilometres and is a flourishing kingdom of wildlife, featuring rich biodiversity and bountiful genetic species.Owing to its complex and diversified landscapes, climatic conditions vary drastically with different regions.Animals living here must adapt to these harsh conditions.The Snow Leopard, Bharal, Lynx and Argali are typical yet rare species on the Tibetan Plateau.

“Biodiversity in China – An Exhibition on China’s Wildlife Specimens ” invites people to explore the rich animal and plant resources in China. The specimens are supplied by the Chongqing Museum of Natural History and displayed according to their classes with appropriate environmental settings to reflect the unique characteristics of various natural habitats in China. This is the first time that wildlife specimens are being exhibited outside mainland China.

Visitors will be able to appreciate, in close proximity, the beauty of wildlife from fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds to forest and alpine animals, such as Giant Panda, Leopard, Tiger, Chinese Alligator, Golden Eagle, Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, Takin, Sika Deer, Chinese Pheasant, White Stork, Green Turtle, and Chinese Giant Salamander. Admission to “Biodiversity in China – An Exhibition on China’s Wildlife Specimens” is $35 with half-price concession for full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. “Free Admission on Wednesdays” and the Museum Weekly Pass will not apply to this exhibition.

The Science Museum is located at 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon. It is open from 1pm to 9pm from Monday to Friday, and from 10am to 9pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. It is closed at 5pm Chinese New Year’s Eve.It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of the Chinese New Year.

For details of the exhibition, visit the Science Museum’s website http://hk.science.museum . For enquiries, please call 2732 3232.

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