Sometimes referred to as the Szechuan Alps or Qin Ling, the Qin Mountains run from east to west in China's Shaanxi Province. The Qin Mountains stands as a divide between northern China and its southern provinces. The Wei River Valley is situated to its north while the Han River Valley can be found to its south. A rain shadow phenomenon affects its northern side, which gives that area a semi-arid climate. Mount Tabai, at 12,359 feet, is the highest peak among the four peaks in the Qin mountain range. These peaks also served as a natural barrier against the invading nomadic tribes since the earliest times.
Han Dynasty scribes wrote in the Book of Waterways that a black dragon visited the Wei River Valley one day to drink some water from the river. After the event, a dragon-shaped mountain formed and was later named Longshou Mountain. Early names for the Qin included the Kunlun, Zhongnan, and South Mountains. There are several monasteries in the Qin Mountains that are considered the origin of Buddhism and Taoism. The mountain range served as stone and wood resources for building constructions during the Xi' Dynasty. Moreover, its mountain streams and rivers were also the water source for many dynasties. The Zhou, Qin, Han, and Tang Dynasties all flourished with the help of the resources the mountains alternately provided.
Today, the Qin Mountains serve as a sanctuary for much of the endangered fauna of China. The mountain range also has Buddhist and Taoist monasteries that permit a life of solitude for the faithful. In some areas of the Qin Moutains, there are farmers who live like hermits in isolation from the rest of China. The Qin Ling Wildlife Park is also located here and is home to many exceptional flora and fauna. Other attractions that are not well known are the White Pyramid of Xian and Xian Garden. There is also a secluded nuclear facility in the area. On Oct 13th, 2010, according to Xinhua Ji Nan, a whole village disappeared that was situated on the foothills of the Qin mountains. The Qin Ling Reporter also confirmed the weird event but no formal statement or comment was issued by the Chinese government.
Habitat and Biodiversity
The Qin Ling Mountain range receive the waters of the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. The four mountains in the Qin range share forested landscapes, evergreen forests, deciduous forests, and sub-alpine forests. Flora includes: walnut, elm, maple, ash, conifers, hornbeam, oak, and birch. Other flora are the gingko, Armand pine, and Chinese fir. The Changqing and Foping Nature Reserves are also located in the Qin Mountains. There are many faunas that roam the entire length of the mountain range. These include the Qin Ling pandas that are related to the Giant pandas. Giant Salamanders, clouded leopard, golden eagle, golden snub-nosed monkey, golden pheasant, crested ibis, and giant pandas can also be found inside the range of these mountains.
Environmental Threats and Territorial Disputes
In 1998, the Chinese government declared a stoppage to all deforestation activities and commercial logging in the Qin Mountains. The World Wide Fund for Nature has helped in conservation efforts in China, especially for the preservation of the many habitats of the Giant panda. The organization has also helped develop programs in alleviating the plight of several indigent communities that depend on the forest. As a result, forest degradation has been reduced. Community vegetable and fruit produce have been positively linked to the Carrefour deal. Two other conservation projects, the Qinling Panda Focal Project and the Minshan Landscape Initiative, have also been successful in protecting forested lands, and also have aided in protecting the endangered fauna of the Qin and surrounding regions.