© J. Pyle
Lovely turquoise waters of the Nu Jiang.
Looking upriver one sees the road close to the
river and ledge rapids between turquoise
Mountains averaging 10,000 ft/3,000 meters in height border grand Nu Jiang Canyon.
Dense virgin forests of pine and fir cover many mountain slopes above a certain elevation
and bamboo thickets below. Here is the habitat of tiger, leopard, bear, deer, giant hawk,
rare pheasant. 314 different medicinal plants have been discovered and hundreds of different
orchids and azaleas. All of these species are threatened by the people's need for food and cropland,
and by the further loss of habitat from logging and mining. Every year more poorly built roads
give loggers and poachers more access.
Selected Species List:
- Trees - Tsuga hinensis (Hemlock), Pseudotsuga sinensis Dode (Chinese
douglas fir), Toona Ciliata Roem, Taxus yunnanensis (Yew), Chinese
catalpa, Michilus yunnanensis, padauk and Taiwania flousiana gaussen.
- Flowers - Orchids: Cymbidium hookerianum, C. yinbianlan, C.
taibaisu, C. kanran, C. lianbansu, C. goeringii.
- Animals - Tiger, Leopard, Leopard Cat, Lesser Panda, Manul Pallas'
Cat, Bear, Bee monkey, Baimei gibbon, Takin, Peacock, Phasianus
colchicus, Bullfinch, Giant flying squirrel (Petaurista).
See White Pearl's Links for description and images. Other
sources for this page's information courtesy of the NuJiang Lisu
© J. Pyle
One of many sand beaches of the Nu Jiang.
Looking downriver from a beach where we dance and sing with the locals.
The river runs a cyclical course similar to the Mekong and Yangtze
Rivers with lows of 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) in winter and highs
of 180,000 cfs in summer. Other hydrological information is made
available as needed to those seriously interested in the NuJiang
Preservation Project river permits. Trek and bike permits are also
The weather is temperate most of the year within the river corridor
with autumn-winter temperatures averaging 12.8 - 17.6 degrees centigrade
and rainfall averaging 26.2 mm/m even in November, the second month of
the dry season.
The nature preserve potential is still unfulfilled. The Chinese
government like the American government can't resist allocating too much
acreage to timber harvesting. It is claimed that Nujiang Lisu has a
forested area of 9.68 million mu (chinese acre) making it one of the
largest forests of China, which has very little virgin forests left. Of
this area only 500,000 acres have been set aside for Nature Preserves or
Natural Protective Zones.
The scenic river potential is the greatest of any of the Yunnan
rivers, because of the extent of its undammed length, its road access,
and its consistent clarity of 98% six months a year. This clarity is in
stark contrast to the muddy waters of the upper Mekong River in Nujiang
Lisu, where mining and logging have significantly deteriorated the water
quality. Over 100 Class III-VI rapids were classified as challenging
white water by the initial Preservation Project river survey. The
natural river has fine white beaches for camping. And clean drinking
water is plentiful from many side streams and the river.
See RiverRat for permits.
© P. Kantor
- To be part of the worldwide focus on preserving Endangered
Species like the Tiger during the Year FOR the Tiger through ecotourism
and species study, which brings income and incentive for preservation of NuJiang.
- To travel Nu River valley over the mountains to Pianma, gate to Burma.
- To visit key nature reserves along the Burma-China border,
studying and recording flora and fauna on our Species List.
The itinerary will include the first class Gaoligongshan Nature Reserve,
remote virgin forest and lakes, guided by local experts.
Schedule, Fee, and Itinerary Information:
- Contact White Pearl for details. Tours are scheduled every year
during the dry season October-April.
Nujiang "River Rat" (Giant Flying Squirrel)
Click image for 1400 x 600 jpg (359K) © D. Pizzuti
Participants on the Tiger Tour will enjoy also some of the same cultural activities
featured on the Ox Tour. But this tour focuses more
on the amassing of data, information and photographs to support the case for preservation
of species and their habitat, forests and streams, or the work in anti-trafficking and anti-poaching.
Some of the tour budget will go directly to the local people and groups like nature preserve staff
doing this work.
Individuals or institutional staff who are experts by vocation or avocation in the following areas are invited to
submit resumes with copy of passport ID page:
Zoology and botany, biodiversity, ecology, forestry, geology, photography, wilderness economics.
Although the tour is mostly a road trip, you must be physically fit with experience in traveling under
rigorous and demanding conditions. Background checks and liability waivers will be required due
to the "closed to (ordinary) foreigners" border regulations and inaccessible remoteness of the area.
See 1996 Field Report 2 and
Field Report 4 for other pictures and travel information.
NuJiang Environmental Report
The NuJiang River Project has an ongoing Environmental Report to make a Case for Preservation.
Here are sections which participating experts can contribute to this year:
Why is the Nu River Region vital in the world-wide campaign to Save
the Tiger and other endangered species?
© P. Kantor
- NuJiang contains five important bioregions and traditional habitats,
including temperate mixed conifer forests, tropical moist evergreen
forests, and dry forests. Two of the Tiger subspecies historically lived
in NuJiang, making this a premium area for preservation of habitat and
for future re-introduction. A very large area of forest is required to
support viable populations of large carnivores like the tiger, which
NuJiang still has, for now.
- Protecting the large species forms an umbrella over many lesser
species, of which NuJiang has at least five on the Endangered Species
list. 80% of the world's endangered biodiversity and 75% of its cultural
diversity lies within 17 megadiversity countries. China is Number Three
at the top of that list. China is also Number Two on the list of most
threatened mammal species (75) and Number Three with most threatened
bird species (90). NuJiang has the environment to support many of these
species. Of great interest are her Galliformes (pheasants) because they
play a special role as indicators to identify and promote the
conservation of sites important for other species.
- Experts say the South China tiger, from which all other subspecies
evolved, will be extinct by the next Year of the Tiger - 2010 - without
drastic measures. So few tigers are left in the wild, it's a certainty
that traditional medicine recipes will outlast tiger bone supplies.
China is the import/export center of the world for illegal tiger bone,
because her own supply from the 60's tiger slaughter is gone. Priority
sites for anti-trafficing work are China's borders; and next to Hong
Kong, the NuJiang Burmese Road should be at the top of the list. Its
daily cargo is not only drugs like Heroin and diseases like Aids, but
also Endangered Species parts and even live animals.
How does the very survival of NuJiang depend on the Preservation of
Forests of Nujiang?
- The survival of an area of rich biodiversity in species and cultures
like NuJiang depends on preservation of the forest. The minorities there
have done well until recently to preserve their biodiversity themselves.
Their erosion free agriculture is laudable, and their hunting was
restrained. But NuJiang's economy is approaching an 80% reliance on
logging and extraction of minerals, following the new roads and driven
by an understandable desire for prosperity.
- The Chinese government is at the bottom of the list in the world in
forest preservation. China has protected less than 5% of her forests,
while having the lowest ratio of forest to people. As urban Chinese grow
richer, more old growth of NuJiang is being sacrificed to satisfy their
appetite for expensive furniture. This region has the most pressure on
its remaining forests and in most need of forest management. Funding
from the central government for preservation and management instead of
extraction is and will continue to be inadequate until it's too
- The destruction of river drainage takes place in tiny increments
almost unnoticed until a monsoon generated mudslide takes out an entire
mountainside. NuJiang minorities are sensitive to this but can not
resist the excessive clearcutting by themselves. Incentive must be given
to inhabitants to act for preservation. Sufficient income to the local
economy from other sources like ecotourism, as well as education, can
provide this incentive.
Webpage written and maintained by White Pearl Associates, Inc.