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Zhalong reserve

Geographical Coordinates
47º 12’ N, 124º 12’ E (46º 52’- 47° 32’ N, 123º 47’ -124º 37’)

Geographical Location
The site is located 26 km east of Qiqihar City in the west of Heilongjiang Province.

 Area :  210,000 ha

Altitude:  140 - 146 m

Wetland Type
Ramsar classification - Ts, Tp, P, O, M

Overview
This site has a system of permanent and seasonally flooded freshwater marshes, shallow lakes and ponds, with extensive reedbeds and grasslands.
Created on March 31, 1992.

PHYSICAL FEATURES
The site is mainly flat, low-lying, alluvial terrain, with numerous lakes and relatively widespread freshwater marsh and saltmarsh. The source of the wetland is the Wuyu’er River which runs through this area. Then the reserve is the lower drainage basin with mixture of rivers and lakes. The depth of lakes is generally 2 m deep with a maximum of 5 m. The maximum depth of water in the marshland is 0,75 m. Extensive flooding of the marshes and surrounding land occurs during the rainy season
in spring and summer. It is a northern temperate continental monsoon climate with an annual mean temperature of about 3ºC, annual precipitation of 368—427 mm, and a frost-free period of 121—135 days.

ECOLOGICAL FEATURES
An important area for breeding, wintering, and staging migratory birds, supporting a flora of more than 500 species, 269 bird species, 46 fish species, 21 mammal species and numerous amphibians. Vegetation in the area includes meadow prairie, wet meadow, marshy vegetation and aquatic vegetation. Especially the extensive reed marshes in the reserve provide a important habitat for breeding waterbirds in cluding endangered red-crowned crane. Grassland, farmland and man-made fishponds surround the reserve.

NOTEWORTHY FAUNA
The site regularly supports over 20,000 waterbirds. Particularly, here can be seen 35 nationally protected bird species which including 6 crane species. Four crane species breeding at this site: red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis), white-naped crane (Grus vipio), common crane (Grus grus) and demoiselle crane (Anthropoides virgo). This site is not only important for breeding birds, but also for wintering birds. There are large numbers of wintering waterbirds, including several endangered species. Such as there are close to 350 red-crowned cranes overwintering at the reserve.

HUMAN USE
The site is owned by the state and collectives. Rich low-lying meadow and meadow prairie are used by the local population for cattle grazing. Reed harvesting provides one of the major sources of income to local residents. In winter, reeds are collected from the marshes and transported to paper mills for paper production.
Other income resources include fishing and animal husbandry. The site is also a popular tourism area, especially for bird-watching, attracting an increasing number of both national and international visitors, which provides valuable income for the reserve. For example, about 4,000 visitors per day were been here during the peak tourist season in 2015.

THREATENING AND DISTURBING FACTORS
The main adverse factors at the site are: enclosure of land for cultivation, wetland reduction, overgrazing in meadow marshland, overfishing leading to reduction in fish stocks, development of production activities and an increase in disturbance caused by human activities. In the surrounding area, enlargement of land for agricultural purposes, discharge of industrial waste water into the upper reaches of Wuyu’er River, an increase in large scale production and development activities are also affecting the site.

CONSERVATION MEASURES
The Zhalong NNR was established in 1979 with an area of 42,000 hectares. In 1982, the area was increased to 210,000 hectares. In 1987, with the approval of the State Council, the reserve was raised to National Reserve status. During 1979 to 2015, about 310 Red-crowned cranes have been successfully artificial hatched and let into the wild. Hunting is prohibited in the reserve and public security agencies have been set up to control the area. A protection committee was formed, with relevant units in
the surrounding area, to organise protection of the wetland and waterbirds. Fishing is prohibited each year from May to June to ensure there is sufficient food for  waterbirds breeding there. Bird biodiversity survey has been done in recently years. And they have also banding endangered birds for many years. There are scientific research facilities at the site including a captive breeding site for cranes, and an audio-visual education centre. And a project of building wetland museum is being conducted. The site also hosts educational visits for residents and schools every spring and autumn to provide information about birds. Permanent publicity boards have been set up in and around the site, providing information on the protection of wetlands and birds.