In recent months I have received several queries asking about mammals in Beijing, a symptom of the lack of English-language resources available beyond the excellent “A Guide to the Mammals of China” by Andrew Smith and Yan Xie. As with the number of bird species recorded in Beijing, the number of mammals recorded in the Chinese capital is surprisingly high. For example, even in the city centre, it’s possible to see species such as Siberian Chipmunk, Siberian Weasel and Amur Hedgehog. And, roaming in the mountains to the north and west are (Amur) Leopard Cats, Siberian Roe Deer and Wild Boar.
To try to at least begin to fill the gap, I have put together a downloadable PDF guide to the mammals of Beijing.
This guide is far from comprehensive. There are many gaps in terms of species covered and, for those species included, there are significant knowledge gaps about their status. This guide should, therefore, be considered a work in progress and I very much welcome any information that can improve the contents. I am particularly interested in records from visitors and residents – please do submit any sightings either through the Latest Sightings page on this website or by using the email address in the PDF.
In researching the status of mammals in Beijing, one of the most intriguing species was Leopard (Panthera pardus). Until the 1980s reports of leopards were regular, if not common, in the mountainous regions to the west and southwest of Beijing. However, with increased habitat fragmentation and undoubted persecution from livestock herders, the idea that leopards still roamed Beijing in the 21st century seemed far-fetched. Now, it appears, this idea may not be so wacky. Thanks to greater habitat protection and the implementation of an insurance scheme for local livestock herders in Shanxi Province, it appears that the population of leopards in the Taihang Mountains, to the southwest of Beijing, is increasing. And, in 2012, a single leopard was caught in a camera trap at Xiaowutaishan, Hebei province, just 10km from the border with Beijing. With evidence of at least one animal so close to Beijing and an increasing number of sightings further south in Shanxi Province, it certainly seems possible that a handful of leopards could still patrol the remote mountainous terrain on the outskirts of China’s capital city.
In fact one local NGO, the Chinese Felid Conservation Alliance (CFCA), has started a campaign to “Bring leopards home.” This ambitious project aims to restore and protect an area of over 87,000 square kilometres, including the Taihang Mountains, in order to allow leopards to move freely.
The ultimate goal is for leopards to be able to migrate from Shanxi province north to Beijing or south to Henan and Shaanxi provinces. As of summer 2017, the campaign had nearly reached its preliminary goal of raising 400,000 CNY to kick off the project.
A Leopard in Beijing? Wouldn’t that be something…
“A spotty revival amid decline for China’s endemic leopards” by Wang Yan. See URL: https://news.mongabay.com/2017/07/a-spotty-revival-amid-decline-for-chinas-endemic-leopards/ accessed 22 February 2018.
“Wild Leopards of Beijing” by Michael Rank. See URL: http://www.danwei.org/wildlife/wild_leopards_of_beijing_by_mi.php accessed 22 February 2018.
“Wild Animals of Beijing” by Jeremy Goldkorn. See URL: http://www.danwei.org/beijing/wild_animals_of_beijing.php (comments section), accessed 21 February 2018
Title image: (Amur) Leopard Cat, Miyun Reservoir, 22 November 2013