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Intl. Day for Biological Diversity | Meet our furry friends at PKU
May 17, 2023

Editor's note: The International Day for Biological Diversity, also known as World Biodiversity Day, is celebrated on May 22nd every year. It is a United Nations-sanctioned observance that aims to raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity and highlight the urgent need for its conservation.
In 2021, the “Peking University Campus Protected Area” was listed as one of the “100+ Biodiversity Positive Practices and Actions.” Containing a rich variety of water bodies, the area miniaturizes nearly all types of wetland landscapes in East Asia, and preserves the native biodiversity of the North China Plain region. Currently, there are more than 230 species of birds, 600 species of higher plants, 15 species of mammals, 26 species of fishes, 14 species of amphibians and reptiles, 27 species of butterflies, and 26 species of crickets in the protected area.

To mark the upcoming World Biodiversity Day, join us on a captivating journey to the enchanting world of Yanyuan, through the lens of PKU photographers.

[Oriental Scops Owl]

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Under the blanket of night, an ethereal melody fills the air, echoing through the campus. Initially mistaken for the wail of anti-theft alarms, this distant symphony is, in fact, the enchanting love song of the Otus sunia. Commonly known as the oriental scops owl, this fascinating creature possesses a captivating presence that has enthralled nature enthusiasts for generations. The oriental scops owl is primarily nocturnal, emerging under the moonlit sky to embark on its hunting expeditions. It migrates to Beijing in early April and breeds in tree caves.

[Grey Heron]
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During the rejuvenating seasons of spring and summer, a mesmerizing sight unfolds near the monument of flipper-tailed rockfish at the tranquil lakeside. A majestic figure, adorned in shades of grayish-white, graces the scene, captivating the attention of onlookers. It is none other than the grey heron (Ardea cinerea), a remarkable large heron species found in abundance across Eurasia and Africa. It first came to PKU in the summer of 2020 and is affectionately known as the “heron classmate”. It leaves quietly at the end of each year and returns the following spring. The spring of 2023 marked the fourth year of its “enrolment” at PKU.

[Eurasian Red Squirrel]

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In the hills and forests of Weiming Lake, a black-clad creature delights in every season. The Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), leaping among branches or dining on tree perches, represents the first harbinger of life in PKU. With its predominantly gray and black fur, accented by a white chest and abdomen, this squirrel is most captivating. It relishes a varied diet of leaves, shoots, fruit seeds, and insects. Yet, during scarce winters, it occasionally descends to scavenge for cat food, all while being playfully pursued by gray magpies. 


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The mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), abundant in Beijing, showcases distinct differences between males and females. Males boast a dark green head with a metallic sheen, a yellow-green bill, a chestnut-colored chest, and a white neck ring. Females don a patchy brown coloration with a black through-eye pattern. Dozens of mallards call Weiming Lake their year-round home. These ducks exhibit early independence, as ducklings swiftly leave the nest to swim alongside their parents in search of food. 

[Mandarin Duck]

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The mandarin duck (Aix galericulata), a cherished water bird in Beijing and a Grade II protected species, enchants with its vibrant presence. Male mandarin ducks exhibit beautiful plumage, boasting a bright green forehead, striking red bill, and captivating colors. Females captivate with grayish-brown feathers, adorned by a white eye ring connected to a delicate white line. Every April, these ducks nest in tree cavities near the water, where the females lead their babies on a courageous journey into the world. Let’s appreciate the magic as the hatchlings leap from their nests and embark on a new life, joyfully scampering towards the nearby waters.

More furry friends at PKU

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Written by: Jin Chuchu
Edited by: Yang Ruoxiang
Photos by: Ge Mengshuai, Ma Chao, Chen Jingzhe, Kong Yueqiao, Wang Yi, Cai Xiangyu, Li Xiaoyi, Dong Kunpeng