Protected species in Shenzhen

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily

 A group of photos of some species that bring special value to Shenzhen and its natural spaces. Photos by Isaac Cohen

Discover Shenzhen 50th Special Edition

When studying the ecology of a place, especially that of a country or region, in terms of conservation, there are several factors that bring extra value to its understanding, the most important being its biodiversity. To put it simply, the more species a region has, the more valuable the place becomes and its conservation becomes a high priority as it even brings economic advantages to the country or region.


The biodiversity value of an ecosystem becomes even more valuable when within the area of study you can find species that are catalogued as endemic or as endangered, endemic meaning they can only be found within that location and nowhere else in the world and endangered meaning they are highly threatened and in risk of disappearing.


In this special 50th edition of Discover Shenzhen, I would like to introduce you to some species that bring special value to our city and its natural spaces, species that make our city even more fascinating and even more worthy of conservation.

时值《Discover Shenzhen》连载迎来第50期。在这周的文章里,我想为大家介绍一些在深圳的生态系统中有着特殊地位的且亟需保护的物种。

The first animal on the list is a mammal that not only has the highest conservation status in China, but also is considered as vulnerable by international environmental authorities. The pygmy slow loris (Xanthonycticebus pygmaeus) is a small nocturnal primate that feeds mainly on flowers’ nectar and sap, although it can also consume small insects. The pygmy slow Loris has been spotted in the eastern mountain parks of Shenzhen.


A pygmy slow loris is seen in a mountain park in eastern Shenzhen. 

The second animal on the list is the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis), another mammal that inhabits the coastal area of Shenzhen. It also shares the highest level of conservation status in China, and is internationally categorized as a near-threatened species, bringing awareness to the need for conservation of our water bodies.


Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are seen in the Lingdingyang waters of the Pearl River Estuary during a photoshooting trip last January, a spin-off of the Second Expats Eye Shenzhen Photo Contest.

The third animal on the list is our beloved black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor), a migratory bird considered to be a top-level protected species within China and sadly categorized as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its rapid habitat loss caused by the expansion of human settlements. Spoonbills can be enjoyed every year during the winter months when the migratory species come to visit the coastal line of Shenzhen Bay Park.


A juvenile black-faced spoonbill is seen at Shenzhen Bay Park.

The fourth spot on our list goes to the Chinese stripe-necked turtle (Mauremys sinensis), a class-two protected species of China and considered to be extremely endangered by the IUCN. This beautiful reptile can be spotted in almost every water body in the city, but its numbers are declining mainly due to the introduction of the invasive pond sliders. People tend to buy this other species of turtle in markets and fairs to keep as pets but later on release them into nature, generating an irreparable damage to the healthy dynamics of the ecosystem.


A Chinese stripe-necked turtle (R) is seen next to a pond slider.

On a different level of conservation, there are three other species that are no less important than the four previously mentioned and that also bring important value to our city; they are the Rhesus monkey, a resident of Tanglang mountain; the Pacific reef heron, frequent visitor of the eastern coastal line of Shenzhen, and the greater coucal, a fascinating bird that can be found almost everywhere in the city.


A Rhesus monkey.

A Pacific reef heron.

A greater coucal.

Understanding that biodiversity is essential for multiple factors that support life on our planet, and knowing that our city places a high value on its conservation efforts, it is of vital importance that all of us wear the “I love Shenzhen badge” and work together for the preservation and conservation of every living creature and their habitats within our city.