Sichuan Trip Synopsis – Pika ID

DSC_0882 DSC_0883 DSC_0884 DSC_0886


I just came back from a Sichuan trip with Roland Zeidler (guide), which was both very exciting and frustrating. Main annoyance was the fact that Labahe was closed (they wouldn’t let us in when we showed up). This meant no Red Panda (or even Giant Panda) and potentially missing out on a lot of other interesting mammals. We also tried Longcanggou for the panda but no joy.

Balangshan/Wolong produced Blue Sheep, Sambar, three Hog Badgers! and a good selection of pheasants, Tibetan Snowcock at about 30-40 meters plus crippling views of a male Temminck’s Tragopan.

Tangjiahe: about 15 Takins, (at least) 3 Serows, several deer species and both Tibetan and Rhesus macaque. Very nice was a Yellow-throated Marten somewhere en route.

Ruoergai was superb with about 15 Tibetan gazelles, about 8-10 Tibetan Foxes, two sightings of single wolves. No luck with Pallas’s Cat, but instead we got a Chinese Mountain Cat!!!!

In total about 22-23 identified mammal species and another 5-10 that couldn’t be brought down to species level.

Full trip report will follow, soonish I hope.

Finally, a question. We saw this rather small pika (definitely not a Black-lipped Pika) in Baixi, the mountainous forest area near Ruoergai. I thought this was a Moupin Pika based on the Mammals of China book drawing, but Richard Webb mentions in his trip report that Gansu Pika occurs here as well. I think these two are the most likely candidates. The animal was uniform sandy/golden brown except for a (off-)white/paler belly and darker breast patch (see photo). Lips were pink definitely not black.The animal was seen in a transitional area of scrub at the edge of some forest on one side, and fields, corrals and grassland on the other side. Anyone an idea which species this is and how to distinguish the two species?







  • PandaSmith

    Sounds like an awesome trip! Bummer about Labahe – closures in China are ridiculous – so random and unpredictable…. Can’t wait to see the trip report!

    • sjefo

      It looks like Longcanggou will be closed (or difficult to access) this spring for further development (the usual tourist facilities, paved roads, and possibly even ski facilties). In Tangjiahe they were planning to no longer allow private vehicles in the park (from May on) although you might be able to arrange a special permit if you have contacts. Wawu and Labahe wil probably remain closed for another while. It is worth getting some local advice before you set off to Sichuan this year.

  • Israel

    for the pika I think you need cranial measurements and other such “dead animal” stats to tell Gansu pika and Moupin pika apart. I had the one I saw there down as a Gansu pika based on Richard Webb’s report but I have been told (by James Eaton) that the species found there is actually the Moupin pika. Webb has it as Gansu because that is what Sid (his guide) told him it was, which I think in turn was based purely on the province Baixi is in being Gansu.

    I still have it listed as Gansu pika on my list, but only because I’m not actually sure. I think it really is Moupin pika.

Leave a Reply