China is a country located on the south-east of the Asian continent with a rich sense of culture and heritage. It hosts a variety of plants and animal species, many of whom are rare. It also boasts of three national animals: the giant panda, the Chinese dragon, and the red-crowned crane. These animals are also the national symbols of China. They are highly treasured and preserved by the government of China as a symbol of national heritage and mythology.
3. Giant panda
The giant panda is referred to as the "national treasure" of China. It has also been a symbol of World Wide Fund (WWF) since its inception in 1961. It is distinctly black and white (black around the eyes, shoulders, and legs with the rest of the body being white). It has an average height of 0.75 meters and is 5 feet in length. It has a lifespan of about fifteen to twenty years. Until 2015, the giant panda was an endangered species (there were fewer than 2,000 giant pandas in the wild). Giant pandas mostly feed on bamboo shoots, leaves, and roots. They spend time in bamboo forests at least 1200m to 3100m above sea level. The animals also eat mice, grass, insects, lambs, and some fruits.
Giant pandas possess strong molar teeth and jaws which helps them crush bamboo with ease. When feeding, they sit like human beings. The city of Chengdu hosts many panda bases and natural reserves suitable for panda survival. It spends most of its time eating (14 hours), sleeping (2 to 4 hours a day), and the rest of the time climbing trees. They are also vulnerable due to human encroachment and degradation on their habitat. Logging and farming work have minimized their habitat space. Poaching and hunting of pandas have also contributed to their ever reducing number. The Chinese government has put measures of protecting giant pandas by reforesting farmlands with bamboo trees. The life cycle of a giant panda consists of Newborn (0 to 4 months), Cub hood (4 - 24 months), Independence stage (1.5 to 2 years) and Maturity stage (4 to 6 years).
2. Chinese dragon
The Chinese dragon is an important symbol in the Chinese culture, with the history of the Chinese Dragon dating back about 7,000 years. It is present in most Chinese festivals, art expos, and other functions. The dragon is deemed lucky and pleasant and it is a symbol of prosperity, power, and luck. Although Chinese dragons do not exist in the real world, they are a sign on the Chinese zodiac. In ancient China, the rulers (emperors) were known as the sons of dragons. The dragons were not meant for ordinary people, but for the rich and powerful. Pictures of a Chinese dragon resemble that of a snake but with four legs. Its appearance has features of several animals including a stag (antlers), carp (scales), clam (belly), claws of an eagle, soles (tiger), and ears (cows).
According to ancient Chinese mythology, the dragons lack wings but can "fly" with an added ability to summon rain. They live at the base of water systems such as seas, lakes or rivers. This habit makes the Chinese dragon highly associated with moving bodies in the form of water. The superiority of this dragon is evident with its presence at the Forbidden City in China (the city is filled with imagery involving the dragon). According to Chinese mythology, the dragon has nine sons (Qiuniu, Pulao, Yazi, Bixi, Chaofeng, Suanni, Chiwen, Bi'an and Fuxi).
1. Red-crowned crane
The red-crowned crane is one of the rarest birds in the world. It is a giant crane with a red crown head and a white body. It has a long beak, neck and legs. The red-crowned crane has a lifespan of approximately 50 to 60 years making it one of the longest living birds on the planet. The red-crowned crane has a maximum weight of fifteen kilograms. It is a first-class state protected animal. It is a symbol of durability, good luck, and loyalty. It mostly resides in the coastal wetlands in North Eastern China. The red-crowned crane has a wide variety of food ranging from small fish, insects, shrimps, aquatic invertebrates, and some plants. They also feed on rice, carrots, buckwheat among others. They feed by fixing their heads next to the ground.
Red-crowned cranes are migratory birds who migrate from one place to another. Spawning lasts for six months. The crane is an omnivorous bird. Several policies and measures have been put in place to protect endangered and vulnerable national animals in China.