Asiatic Black Bear
Asiatic Black Bear’s (Ursus thibetanus) survival in the region must, like a variety of other larger mammals, chiefly depend on the large tracts of forested nature reserve that have been established for Giant Panda protection. We have seen at 4 separate sites but mainly see this animal at Tangjiahe, where during autumn months family groups have been sighted feeding on seasonal wild fruit. It is a great climber but most of our sightings have been made after stumbling upon animals in open areas on the ground. Most of these are daytime views but it’s infrequently recorded.

 

Brown Butterfly
Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) is rarer than Black Bear and in Sichuan/Qinghai regular sightings are now only made in remoter areas of the Tibetan Plateau – especially valley habitats that still contain alpine forest and scrub. There are still areas in far west of Sichuan where the bear is seen but Qinghai gives the most records. With increased development in these areas its survival, like that of Snow Leopard, which is also found in the same areas, will increasingly depend on effective habitat and wildlife protection.

 

Giant Panda
Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is the species that immediately springs to mind when discussing Sichuan Mammals. Favouring areas of dense upland bamboo, we went years without seeing them, even though we occasionally found fresh scat during birding/mammal watching trips. However, we have recently been able to devote more time to Giant Panda spotting, using new techniques, which have paid dividend and given us several sightings, in areas outside restricted national nature reserve zones, over the 2018/19 period. Formerly guided Giant Panda watching was available in the panda reserves of Shaanxi, but these have all been stopped. All our sightings have been made in Sichuan.

 

Giant Panda Skat
Fresh skat from a wild Giant Panda found on a board walk. Giant Pandas will use readily use roads and manmade paths

 

Red Panda
Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) is commonly found at Labahe but has also been seen at five other Sichuan sites, A split has been suggested, where the animals in Sichuan are now Chinese Red Panda (Ailurus styani) while populations to the east, in Nepal/India, become Himalayan Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens). Compelling evidence for the two new species comes from size/pelage/habitat differences, while DNA analysis has revealed both genetic and evolutionary divergence. We almost exclusively see this animal during daylight hours. During autumn months they feed on berry bushes and, in high density areas, can frequently be seen climbing after and feeding on fruit. During this time, at sites like Labahe, they seem reasonably tolerant to human disturbance. Over other seasons they can be more difficult to find, when many of the sightings are animals sleeping in trees. This is a highly arboreal species, but we also get sightings where it is crossing roads or tracks. phylogenetically it is placed in the Mustelids but not considered a close relative to racoons and certainly not close to Giant Panda or bears.