The Qinling Mountains are a major mountain range located mainly in the Eastern province of Shaanxi, in China. The mountains provide a natural boundary between the North and South of the country, and support a huge variety of plant and wildlife, some of which is found nowhere else on Earth.
The Northern side of the range is prone to cold weather, while the physical barrier of the mountains mean that the land to the South enjoys a sub-tropical climate, with the rich, fertile landscape supporting a wealth of wildlife and vegetation. The mountains also acted as a natural defense against nomadic invasions from the North, as only four passes cross the mountains. In the late 1990s a railway tunnel was completed, thereby easing travel across the range. The highest mountain in the range is Mount Taibai, (3,767 meters), which is around 100 kilometers west of the ancient Chinese capital of Xi'an.
Ideal Home for Flora and Fauna
The region is home to a large number of rare plants, of which around 3,000 have so far been documented. Plant and tree species native to the region include Ginkgo, thought to be one of the oldest species of tree in the world, as well as Huashan or Armand Pine, Acer miaotaiense and Chinese Fir. Timber harvesting reached a peak in the 18th century in the Qinling Mountains.
They are home to the Qinling Pandas, a sub-species of the Giant Panda, which are protected in the region with the help of the Changqing and Foping nature reserves. Around 200 pandas live in the region, estimated at around a fifth of the entire wild panda population. The mountains are also home to the Golden Takin (a species of Ox), Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, Temminck's Tragopan, Crested Ibis, Golden Eagle, and Clouded Leopard.