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Although China’s varied geography and climate have created a wealth of wildlife habitats, the country’s vast human population has put pressure on the environment, bringing some high-profile creatures to the edge of extinction. Most famous of these is the giant panda, which survives in pockets of high-altitude bamboo forest across the southwest. A few Siberian tigers haunt the northeastern highlands, while the critically endangered South China tiger numbers just thirty wild individuals. Less well-known rarities include the snub-nosed golden monkey, white-headed langur and Chinese alligator, all of which are possible – with a lot of luck – to see in the wild. Birdlife can be prolific, with freshwater lakes along the Yangzi and in western Guizhou, along with the vast saline Qinghai Lake, providing winter refuge for hosts of migratory wildfowl – including rare Siberian and black-necked cranes.

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