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Location China (mainland), Qinghai
Central coordinates 100o 6.00' East  33o 22.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3, A4i, A4iii
Area 15,230,000 ha
Altitude 3,168 - 5,338m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

Site description Sanjiangyuan means the origin of three rivers, namely the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang (Mekong) rivers. It is a very large, high-altitude nature reserve that neighbours Sichuan Province and Tibet Autonomous Region. The natural habitats range from montane forest in the lower eastern part of the reserve to cold alpine grassland and desert in the higher western part of the reserve. Longbaotan National Nature Reserve includes montane wetlands comprising lakes and marshes, and is a breeding area of Grus nigricollis and used by other waterbirds during the migration seasons.

Key Biodiversity 

Non-bird biodiversity: A total of 2,238 species of vascular plants have been identified in the area, including many with high herbal medicine values. Protected mammal species including Tibetan Antelope, Wild Yak, Kiang (Tibetan Wild Ass), Snow Leopard, Leopard, Brown Bear, Marco Polo’s Sheep, Musk Deer and Giant Salamander.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Chinese Monal Lophophorus lhuysii resident  2008  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Pallas's Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus breeding  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga passage  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca passage  2004  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis breeding  1997  92 individuals  unknown  A1, A4i  Vulnerable 
Sichuan Jay Perisoreus internigrans resident  2008  present  A1  Vulnerable 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds unknown  2004  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Eling Lake Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 65,907 protected area contained by site 65,907  
Longbao Nature Reserve 10,000 protected area contained by site 10,000  
Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve 15,230,000 is identical to site 1,523,000  
Zhaling Lake Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 64,920 protected area contained by site 64,920  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland)   -
Forest   -
Grassland   -
Artificial - terrestrial   -

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife