Pheasants in sacred and other forests in western Sichuan: their cultural conservation

Nan WANG, Guangmei ZHENG, Philip J.K. McGowan
2012 Chinese Birds  
Buddhism and local cultural traditions have long protected wildlife species and their habitats in Tibetan-dominated areas of western Sichuan. In Daocheng County, the White Earedpheasant (Crossoptilon crossoptilon) has been afforded special protection by local people because it is conspicuous and white, a color with special symbolism for Buddhists. This and other cultural reasons have led to pheasants and forests benefiting in some areas. Pheasants were found during surveys between January 2003
more » ... tween January 2003 and June 2004 in forests with varying degrees of local (non-formal) protection. However, there were significant signs that these traditional attitudes were changing in the face of three particular pressures brought to bear by better roads, improving access to and from the rest of China. The first was the development of a significant local demand for the Chinese caterpillar fungus (Cordyceps sinesis), which is much sought after throughout East Asia and mushrooms. Second, and more recent, is a dramatic increase in tourism from major Chinese cities, bringing non-Tibetan values into Daocheng County and changing the local attitudes to all animals. And then, there is a rise in income of the local population, resulting in a higher timber demand for building big houses, which impact all wildlife in the forest, but local attitudes to sacred forests have been retained so far in spite of this increased timber demand. Lessons should be learnt from the impact that unregulated tourism at Chonggu monastery, the most visited area in the county, has on the surrounding forests so that other sacred and non-sacred forests can best be protected for the long term. The alternative is that several Tibetan Plateau Galliformes, currently considered non-threatened because of their extensive distribution in a remote area, cannot be guaranteed such a healthy future.
doi:10.5122/cbirds.2012.0003 fatcat:zo5cmlykfze35etfyy7g2m7kme