This south-central China province is located in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and its topography is dominated by low mountains and hills. The fertility of the land and its well-developed water system formed by Xiangjiang River, Zijiang River, Yuan River and Lishui River, has led to Hunan becoming known as the ‘Land of Rice and Fish’ (the Chinese expression equivalent to the English ‘Land of Milk and Honey’).

The province has the second largest freshwater lake in China, Dongting Lake. Its subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest consists of 248 plant families, with over 5000 species including precious plants such as the silver fir, metasequoia, waterpine, ginkgo and dove trees. These are ideal habitat for water birds and forest birds. Up to now, records in Hunan comprise 71 bird families, represented by 448 species (c.34% of the national total). Among them are 64 nationally protected species. In 2007, Red-billed Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea was chosen as the ‘state bird’ of Hunan Province.

Hunan has a subtropical humid ‘monsoon’ climate with features of both continental and marine climates.

The capital of the province is Changsha, which has a 2000-year history.

Some top wildlife sites include:

Dongting Lake Wetlands (Map)

Dongting Lake is the third largest lake in China made up of East, South and West Dongting Lake, Dongting Lake Wetlands Reserve was established in 1982 and upgraded to national level reserve in 1994. It was accepted in the list of Ramsar sites in 2002. According to the survey of 2007, 297 species of birds were recorded in East Dongting Lake, 164 species of birds were recorded in South Dongting Lake and 217 species of birds were recorded in West Dongting Lake. A Bird-watching Festival is held at Dongting Lake each year.

Hupingshan Reserve

Hupingshan Reserve was granted National Reserve status in 1994. In 1996 the reserve recorded 143 bird species. Among them there are 49 species of summer breeders, 14 species of over-wintering birds and 80 residents. Endangered bird species here include Reeve’s Pheasant Syrmaticus reevesii, Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Rhinomyias brunneata and Silver Oriole Oriolus mellianus.

Jiangkou Niaozhou Nature Reserve (Map)

Jiangkou Niaozhou Nature Reserve, which is 41 kilometers from Hengyang City, is the smallest protected area in the province but has the richest bird fauna. There are 181 regularly recorded bird species here, including the internationally endangered Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus. Endangered bird species include Oriental Stork Cicnia boyciana, Swan Goose Anser cygnoides and Baikal Teal Anas formosa.

Wulingyuan (Map)

Wulingyuan, which UNESCO listed as world heritage site in 1992, lies in the Zhangjiajie region of Hunan Province. It consists of 5 nature reserves: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Zhangjiajie Nature Reserve, Zhangjiajie Giant Salamander Reserve, Tianzishan Nature Reserve and Suoxiyu Nature Reserve. In 1999 this region recorded 31 species of summer breeders and 58 resident birds. Endangered bird species in this region are Elliot’s Pheasant Syrmaticus ellioti and Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher Rhinomyias brunneata.

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