Tag Archives: Animals

The Cattle of YangMingShan 陽明山, Taipei

Yes, at last, I’ve found them!  The cattle of YangMingShan are smelt long before they are seen ~ the smell of ‘cow’ is everywhere in Qingtiangang especially on the grasslands, and there’s cowpats and muddy trails and hoof-prints all over.  But often the cattle themselves are nowhere to be found.  I’ve been up there twice recently and not a cow in sight.  But yesterday, there they all were, taking it easy – with the egrets perched on their backs, chewing the cud, yes!

YangMingShan is the mountain range on the northern side of Taipei City, highest point 1,120m above sea level, all volcanic in origin, with lots of sulfur deposits, fumaroles, hot springs, and in spring, cherry blossom.  From 1895-1945, Taiwan was under Japanese rule, and in 1937, the Japanese government declared the western part of YangMingShan around the Datun Mountain area as a national park.  Much of the area was already being reforested, and the trails that we all use today were established at that time running along in-between the firebreaks.  And beautiful trails they are too!

The eastern part of YangMingShan, around Qingtiangang and further east to Fenggueikou, was used for tea-growing and grazing cattle.  In 1934, the Farmer’s Association of Taipei established a cattle ranch there, covering about 2,000 hectares, with about 1,600 cattle. This was disrupted during World War II, and even though farming was continued under the Chinese government after the war, it continued to decline. In 1985, Qingtiangang became part of the national park.  This was the site of the old farm office, near the Juansi Waterfall (‘Silk Waterfall’, because the water looks like spun silk) now derelict….

The cattle of YangMingShan today are of 2 types, Taiwan Water Buffalo and Tajima Cattle (a strain of Japanese Black).  In January 2017, former president of Taiwan, Lee Teng-Hui, who has a PhD in Agricultural Economics, announced a project to produce Japanese-style beef using Taiwanese cattle through experimental breeding techniques, using Tajima cattle from YangMingShan – though the report says the Tajima were underweight when they arrived at the research station.  No wonder, living up there, especially in winter!  There’s one Tajima in the centre of this group….

The water buffalo are black in colour with large curved horns, in a crescent shape. The horns of the Tajima are smaller and shorter and straighter.  They all hang out together, and due to the heat can often be found sitting around taking it easy, chewing the cud or indulging in a bit of mud-bath therapy, keeping cool.  This is how they were yesterday!

The cattle area and grasslands extends for miles all the way along the ridge to Fengguikou. Beautiful scenery all the way and glorious views!

And how’s this for the view north towards the coast…. that’s the sea in the distance!

Great place, and those cows are something else – the ones in the mud-bath could be heard long before I could see them, wallowing and blowing bubbles.  Just like hippos in the Serengeti!

Beauty of a Beast…

wpid-img_20150908_082828_1441693643031.jpgThought you might to see what I found chilling today at St. John’s University ~ a Batocera rubus albofasciata, otherwise known as a Mango Longhorn Beetle ~ looks kinda handsome but turns out to be a pest, as it bores into trees and munches its way through them….

Turns out to be quite common in Taiwan, but if even one turns up in Europe, it’s a mega-crisis, with special monitoring in place…..

Beauty ‘n the Beast? Here they’re combined in one ~ ah, the Beauty of a Beast!

Mainsgill Farm, N. Yorkshire

Crossing the A66 yesterday on my way from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire to West Kilbride, on Scotland’s west coast ~ and called in at Mainsgill Farm.  Been past this place many times in the last few months and noticed camels and llamas in the front field ~ kinda seems strange for the Pennines!  But hey, it’s a great place with lots of farm animals, many with babies on show or eating away, and ignoring the visitors!

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Great place for a coffee break, and to say hi to the animals!

Pandas World Tour hits Taipei!

Yep, there’s currently 1,600 of them right there in central Taipei – and only a few minutes walk from where the the student protesters are occupying the Legislature.  Such contrasting scenes – but all involve large numbers and a lot of sitting around, which is what both the students and the pandas are doing…

Pandas World Tour started with the World Wildlife Fund and the number 1,600 is reckoned to be how many real live pandas there are, 3 of which are in Taipei Zoo – baby panda Yuan-Zai is Taiwan’s latest ‘cute’ obsession.  So this world tour comes at a good time, and quite the best article about it is in UK’s Daily Mail here, surprise….

Happened to pass by Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial and Freedom Plaza yesterday, amazed to see so many people and pandas (and 200 Formosan Black Bears in there too)….

And today it’s pouring with rain, and all the pandas are dressed up in plastic raincoats….

Amazing eh?  Well, no-one could ever say that Taipei is a boring city!

Yuan Zai 圓仔 Baby Panda ~ so gorgeous (and awake!)

Taipei Zoo’s baby panda Yuan Zai 圓仔 is charming the whole country, but she doesn’t half like to sleep ha ha!  Queues and queues of people (limited to 19,200 per day) have lined up to see her for 10 minutes of viewing time during the Chinese New Year holiday as she made her public debut, and there she is (or not, if she’s often hiding) fast asleep….

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Taipei Metro kindly shows the current panda viewing times and available tickets on electronic noticeboards on some of its platforms around the city – and so there it was that I came to be in the zoo on Saturday afternoon especially to see the baby panda, and with only 5 minutes to wait to see her…. (unlike morning visitors who had to wait 2 hours!)

Zoo entrance fee is only NT$ 60 (about £1.20), well worth it to see a baby panda, who people say, wakes up in the afternoons – and YES she was wide awake and sitting on the top of a tall branch smiling at us all and moving around, while mother was wandering around below…

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Not easy to get a decent photo, but she is just sooooooo cute and gorgeous – if you have a chance, you just MUST go and see her!

 

Elephant Mountain ~ and what a view!

Found a new mountain very early this morning.  Elephant Mountain.  Feel like David Livingstone, ha ha! Except that I waited for the Taipei MRT to open a new MRT station called 象山 Shiang Shan – Elephant Mountain – so now it’s so easy to get to….

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Elephant Mountain (象山) is part of a range of small but steep hills called the Four Beasts Mountains (四獸山) to the far east of Taipei City.

Never been there before today – in fact my neighbours here are surprised to hear me say there is actually a real Shiang Shan, Elephant Mountain, and it’s not just the name of the new MRT station terminus!

Found myself up on not just Elephant Mountain but also on the ridge behind which leads to 拇指山 Muzhishan (Mount Thumb) and 九五峰 Jiu-Wu (9-5) Peak.  

There’s 3 other animal mountains in the area – tiger, leopard and lion, but they’re reserved for next visit!

Stunning views of Taipei City and especially Taipei 101…

Cherry Blossom out, and many people also out, praying at the shrines and temples (of which there are many scattered along the trails), and resting at the many shelters and seats. My favourite is the shelter made from old umbrellas tied together!

And everyone everywhere is cleaning, cleaning and cleaning – there’s hoses in action all over – the annual washing of the windows is in full swing…

Tomorrow, Thursday is Chinese New Year’s Eve – and so the festivities start tomorrow evening…  Happy New Year everyone!