Tibet is not just about tundra and ice...
Tibet, or Xi'zang Autonomous Region, resides on the southwestern edge of China. When people think about Tibet, they usually think about tundra and snow mountains in terms of its natural environment.
For example, something like this...
Could you associate these with Tibet??
Yes, tropical rainforst!
In fact Tibet reserves the most northern tropical forests in the world. The tropics in Southern Tibet reserve more than 80 species of herptiles, many of which are believed to be endemic to the area.
Despite the continuous efforts of herpetofaunal survey in the past (the first one in 1973, organized by the founder of Chinese herpetology, Dr. Liu Chengzhao; the second one by Dr. Zhao Ermi and Dr. Li Shengquan in 1982–83; then by Dr. Rao Dinqi in 1998; and most recent one by Dr. Li Pipeng and his collegues in 2004), we still do not have a complete understanding of the local herpetofaunal diversity.
Starting in 2010, Dr. Zhang Yaping from Kunming Institute of Zoology (KIZ), Chinese Academy of Sciences, initiated another series of herpetofaunal diversity surveys of Tibet. Being the most comprehansive and enduring one, the surveys covered most areas of Tibet and lasted for five years.
With pride and pleasure, I was able to participate in three of the six surveys in summers of 2012, 2013, and 2015 as a summer intern of KIZ. Along with my undergraduate mentor, Mr. Jiang Ke, and other field assistances, we surveyed the wilderness of southern and eastern parts of the autonomous region.
Surveying the jungle was not a easy task: most target areas were extremely difficult to access. We had to hire local guides to lead the way and help us cut through the jungle. Fortunately our local guides were field experts, and they helped us taking care of daily logistics so that we could focus on our jobs.
Local field guides and I in 2012
Our field team in 2013
Well... the field guides could not take care of everthing for us... For example, those mini “vampires” were out of their controls...
And, accident happened for sure...
But all these difficulties and harshness that we went through were totally worth it! As results of the expiditions, we found many new herp records of PR China, and we discovered many new species of herptiles that had not been described to sciences (see publication page).
To read more about my exbiditions in Tibet, please click the followings forum posts on Field Herp Forum:
Zhang'mu, Cuo'na, and Pai Village 2012
Eastern Tibet and Hengduan Mountain Region 2017 (NW Yunnan and NW Sichuan)