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The Alligator Sinensis Nature Reserve

Date of Submission: 12/02/1996
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO
Coordinates: Long. 180°--119°6' East / Lat. 30°6'--31°6' North
Ref.: 106

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The Alligator Sinensis distributed in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River is a peculiar wildlife in China. The Alligator Sinensis, one of the fresh water crocodiles in the alligator family, have a history of 200 million years. There are only two species of this family in the world today, one is the Alligator Sinensis in China and the other is Alligator mississippiensis in the Mississippi River of north America. Having a gentle disposition and no harm to the people, the Alligator Sinensis is one of the rare animals in the world. According to the field survey, the Alligator sinensis is only distributed over the southern part of Anhui Province and some places of the neighbouring province of Zhejiang, totalling about 500 pieces. Since it has some significance in the history of the animal evolution and academic importance, the biological specialists both at home and abroad have devoted much attention to the protection of the animal which was ranked as one of the protected wildlives in the world by the United Nations in 1973. The Chinese Government has also given its first priority to take care of the animal. In order to protect the endangered animal an Alligator sinensis Nature Reserve was established by the Government of Anhui Province in 1982. The Reserve (30'6'31"-6'N and 180°-119° 6'E) covers five counties of Nanling, Jingxian, Shuancheng, Lanhxi, Guangde of Anhui Province. The headquarter of the management organization locates at the Forestry Bureau of Shuancheng Profecture and the top governing organ is the Forestry Department of Anhui Provincial Government and then the Reserve was approved by the State Council as one of the State controlled reserves in China in July, 1986. There are three rivers in the Reserve, namely Zhanghe River, Qingyi River and Shuiyang River which are linked up each other and empty into the Yangtze River. The three rivers are connected with many lakes, ditches and ponds with abundant food for the animal and less human disturbance, so that it is a suitable habitat for the Alligator sinensis. The animal usually inhabits in the lairs of the hilly land at the elevation of less than 100 m where the soil is more soft with a large amount of sand content. The vegetation here is mainly grasses, such as Miscanthus sinensis, Imperata cylindrica, Themeda triaudra, Kummerowia stipulaces etc.; quite a few bushes of Rosa multiflora, Rubus parvifolius, Lespeteza formosa etc. and some scattered trees of Salix matudana, Melia azedarach, Robinia Pseudoacacia, Celtis sinensis etc. It is very interesting that the body temperature and the metabolism of the Alligator sinensis can be changed according to the environmental conditions. The dormant stage of the animal begins at the end of October till the middle of April the next year. The establishment of the Alligator sinensis Nature Reserve has played an important role in preserving this odd species. The accidents of killing the Alligator sinensis have been reduced gradually during the last few years because of the managing personnel of the Reserve using all kinds of opportunities such as meetings, radio, proclamations and bulletin boards to educate the public inside the Reserve the awareness of importance for protecting the rare animal. Besides, five protection and observation stations have been set up and another six are under preparation in the townships, villages and hill and pond sides where there are more Alligator sinensis inhabited. In 1985, in the four protected lairs, the Alligator sinensis laid 87 eggs and hatched 51 young ones, so that the population of the animal has been increased in the field. With the purpose of rescuing the endangered rare species an "Anhui Provincial Alligator sinensis Propagation and Research Centre" was established by the Ministry of Forestry, the People -Anhui Provincial Government in 1982 to carry out artificial raising, propagation and research work and to regain and develop the resource of the animal in China and to probe the relationship between the Alligator sinensis and human beings. The Centre has hatching rooms, propagation pools and raising ponds, covering a total area of 100 ha. Having several years of experiences total area of 100 in biological research, the Centre has mastered the principles of propagation and growth and the methods of artificial raising of the animal, so that the hatching and survival rate has been increased year by year. The hatching rate was 90.3% and the survival rate 95.4% in 1985. At present, there are more than 1,000 Alligator sinensis kept in the Centre. The establishment of the Alligator sinensis Nature Reserve has played an important role in protecting and propagating the animal. The Alligator sinensis had already lived for more than 200 million years on earth before the appearance of Human beings, that's why people call it a living fossil. The Chinese Government has made great efforts and gained distinct achievements in protecting one of the two fresh water crocodiles in the world.