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|Summary of Korea Wildlife
Korea's Main Page
||Due to the Korean Peninsula's long north-south stretch and
topographic complexity, there are wide variations in temperature and rainfall.
The mean temperature throughout the four seasons ranges from 5oC to
16oC and rainfall from 500 to 1,500 millimeters.
Such an environment
makes the land a diversified floral region. Lee Woo-tchul's Lineaments Florae
Korea (1997) listed 190 families, 1,079 genera, 3,129 species, 8 subspecies, 627
varieties, 1 subvariety and 306 forms of higher plants, including pteridophytes.
This means that more than 4,000 kinds of vascular plants, including about 570
endemics are currently growing in the country. By comparison, there are about
1,500 species in Denmark and about 2,000 species in England. Many plants in
northern Korea have elements in common with those growing in Manchuria. While
many alpine plants are found in the north and high mountain areas, the central
part and the western lowlands have the predominant amount of vegetation, such as
broad-leaved deciduous trees. The southern coast and the offshore islands of
Chejudo and Ullungdo are regions where
warm-temperate plants grow abundantly. Many evergreen plants growing in the
southern parts are identical or similar to those found in the southwestern part
of Japan. While there are many plant species in Korea which have common elements
with those growing in neighboring countries, the aforementioned environmental
conditions have brought about the emergence of many endemic species.
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Because of the high average annual temperature (14oC)
prevailing over the southern part of the peninsula and the offshore islands -
Chejudo, SohCuksando and UllCungdo
- numerous plant species grow in those areas. On the shorelines of Chejudo
island, more than 70 species of broad-leaved evergreens grow. These include
Camellia japonica L., Cinnamomun camphora Siebold, Ardisia pusilla DC., Quercus
myrsinaefolia Blume, Ligustrum japonicum Thunb., Korthalsella japonica (Thunb.)
Engl., Rhaphiolepis umbellata (Thunb.) Makino, Neolistsea sericea (Blume) Koidz.,
Actinodaphne lancifolia (Siebold et Zucc.) Meisn., Euonymus japonicus Thunb.
Euonymus fortunei (Turcz.) Hand. - Mazz., Trachelospermum asiaticum (Siebold et
Zucc.) Nakai, Ficus thunbergii Maxim., Machilus japonica Siebold et Zucc.,
Daphniphyllum tejismanni Zoll., Pittosporum tobira (Thunb.) Aiton, Citrus unshiu
Markovich, ect. Also found are such herbal plants as Farfugium japonicum (L.)
Kitam., Pollia japonica Thunb., Crinum asiaticum L. var. japonicum Baker, and
such broad-leaved deciduous trees as Celtis sinensis Pers., and Elaeagnus
The southeast slope of Mt. Hallasan on Chejudo island is more
abundant in warm-temperate vegetation than the northern side of the mountain.
Such vegetation gradually diminishes in the number of species as the contour
line of temperature moves northward to the southern shore of the peninsula via KComundo,
SohCuksando and other islands. Near Pusan and Mokp'o,
the number of natural broad-leaved evergreens is limited to fewer than 20
species. These areas are also the northernmost limits of where Farfugium
japonicum (L.) Kitam survive.
UllCungdo island, located at 37030:N
parallels, has many plants of the warm temperate zone, including Daphniphyllum
teijsmanni Zoll., Camellia japonica L., Magnolia obovata Thunb., Ilex integra
Thunb., Aucuba japonica Thunb., Neolitsea sericea (Blume) Koidz., and Elaeagnus
macrophylla Thunb. Because of the high contour of the temperate zone, Camellia
japonica L. and Neolitsea sericea (Blume) Koidz. are distributed as far north as
Taech'nongdo island, off Hwanghae-do province. This
distribution is caused by seed dispersal through ocean currents.
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The Korean Peninsula, except for the high terrains of Mt.
Hallasan on Chejudo island and the T'aebaeksan mountains, has a typical
temperate zone climate.
It abounds in the type of vegetation natural to the temperate
zone, such as Pinus densiflora Siebold et Zucc. and other deciduous broad-leaved
trees. Typical deciduous broad-leaved trees found in Korea are: Quercus aliena
Blume, Quercus acutissima Carruth., Quercus serrata Thunb., Carpinus laxiflora (Siebold
et Zucc.) Blume, Betula platyphylla Sukaczev var. japonica (Miq.) Hara, Carpinus
tschonoskii Maxim., Fraxinus rhynchophylla Hance, Salix gracilistyla Miq., Tilia
amurensis Rupr., Styrax japonica Siebold et Zucc., Forsythia koreana (Rehder)
Nakai, Lespedeza biclor Turcz., Rhododend-ron mucronulatum Turcz., Rhododendron
yedoense Maxim. var. poukhanense (Lev.) Nakai, and Rhododendron schlippenbachii
Maxim. Herbaceous plants in this zone include Miscanthus sinensis Andersson,
Miscanthus sacchariflorus (Maxim.) Benth., Calamagrostis arundinacea (L.) Roth,
Chrysanthemum zawadskii Herbich, Hylomecon vernalis Maxim., Primula sieboldii E.
Morren, Platycodon grandiflorum (Jacq.) A. DC., Adenophora triphylla (Thunb.) A.
DC., Codonopsis lanceolata (Siebold et Zucc.) Trautv., Melanpyrum reseum Maxim.,
Elsholztia splendens Nakai and Gentiana pseudoaquatica Kusn.
Among the endemic species of plants, thriving in Korea are
Abeliophyllum distichum Nakai, Hylomecon hylomeconoides Nakai, and Aconitum
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Cold temperate plants grow in the northern part of Korea and
in the mountains, such as Mt. SCoraksan (1,000
meters), Mt. Chirisan (1,300 meters) and Mt. Hallasan (1,500 meters), where the
mean annual temperature on all three mountains is 5oC. Typically
inhabiting these locations are such needle-leaved trees as Abies nephrolepis
Maxim., Larix olegensis A. Henry var. koreana Nakai, Thuja koraiensis Nakai,
Picea jezoensis (Siebold et Zucc.) Carriere, Pinus pumila (Pall.) Regel,
Juniperus chinensis L. var. sargentii A. Henry, Picea koraiensis Nakai, Abies
Koreana Wilson, Taxus cuspidata Siebold et Zucc. and broad-leaved deciduous
trees as Quercus mongolica Fisch., Quercus dentata Thunb., Chosenia bracteosa
Nakai, Betula platyphylla Sukaczev var. japonica (Miq.) Hara, Betula ermanii
Cham., Betula costata Trautv., Salix myrtilloides L., Vaccinium uliginosum L.,
and Syringa dilatata Nakai.
As for endemic plants, there is a predominant growth of
Echinosophora koreensis Nakai in Hamgyongbuk-do
province and near Yanggu, Kangwon-do province. Myongch'-Con-gun,
in HamgyCongbuk-do province, is the native habitat of
Sasa coreana Nakai and forms the northern limit for bamboo. The endemic
herbaceous plant is Hanabusaya asiatica Nakai, which grows in the northern part
of the country. Rheum coreanum Nakai is found on the PujCon
Plateau, on the Changbaeksan range, HamgyCongnam-do
There are many kinds of plants common to Korea and Manchuria.
Typical of these include: Astilboides tabularis (Hemsl.) Engl., Acerphyllum
rossii (Oliv.) Engl. and Jeffersonia dubia (Maxim.) Benth. & Hook. f. Pinus
pumila (Pall.) Regel. These plants grow abundantly in the northern mountains as
well as on Mt. Soraksan. Thuja koraiensis Nakai,
which grows in the northern mountains, can be found on the higher part of the
T'aebaeksan mountains. Vaccinium ulginosum L., grows on the summits of Mt. Soraksan
and Mt. Hallasan. This is regarded as a relic species, its present location
resulting from the climatic changes which presumably occurred during the
Empetrum nigrum L. var. japonicum K. Koch grows in the
northernmost regions and the southern end of Mt. Hallasan. Diapensia lapponica
L. var. obovata F. Schmidt is found on Mt. Hallasan and in Japan. Their
distribution may suggest that the Korean Peninsula, Chejudo island, and the
Japanese archipelago were once a connected landmass.
Major flora in the cold-temperate climate of the northern
forest areas include Larix olgensis A. Henry var. koreana Nakai, Picea jezoensis
(Siebold et Zucc.) Carriere, Abies nephrolepis Maxim., Pinus koraiensis Siebold
et Zucc., Picea koraiensis Nakai, and Abies holophylla Maxim.
The important needle-leaved trees growing on Mt. Kumgangsan
include Pinus koraiensis Sieb. et Zucc., Abies holiphylla Maxim., Picea
jezoensis (Siebold et Zucc.) Carriere, Larix olgensis A. Henry var. koreana
Nakai, and Thuja koraiensis Nakai. The predominant species growing on Mt.
Chirisan are Juniperus chinensis L. var. sargentii A. Henry, Pinus koraiensis
Siebold et Zucc., Abies holophylla Maxim., Abies Koreana E.H. Wilson, and Picea
jezoensis (Siebold et Zucc.) Carriere. Near the summit of Mt. Hallasan on
Chejudo island grow Abies Koreana E.H. Wilson and Juniperus chinensis L. var.
sargentii A. Henry.
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July is the season when flowering reaches its peak. Although
summer is the peak of the flowering season, there are quite a few species that
also bloom during the spring and autumn seasons. Woody plants, for example, tend
to have their flowering peaks in May.
Flowers blooming in spring include: Forsythia koreana Nakai,
Rhododendron mucronulatum Turcz., Lonicera praeflorens Batalin, Fraxinus
ryhnchophylla Hance, Abeliophyllum distichum Nakai, Prunus ansu Komarov, Prunus
yedoensis Matsum., Magnolia kobus DC., Sorbus alnifolia (Siebold et Zucc.) K.
Koch, Ginkgo biloba L., Iris rossii Baker, Pulsatilla koreana (Y. Yabe) Nakai,
Erythronium japonicum Decne., Berberis amurensis Rupr., Corus officinalis
Siebold et Zucc., Hylomecon vernalis Maxim., and Viola mandshurica W. Becker.
Plants blooming in summer comprise: Paeonia japonica (Makino)
Miyabe et Takeda, Paeonia lactiflora Pall., Paeonia suffruticosa Andrews, Iris
ensata Thunb. var. spontanea (Makino) Nakai, Rosa rugosa Thunb., Sorbus commixta
Hedl., Magnolia sieboldii K. Koch, Maianthemum dilatatum (Wood) Nelson et J.F.
Macbr., Lilium concolar Salisb., Lilium distichum Nakai, Lilium hansonii
Leitchtlin, Morus alba L., Chenopodium album L. var. centrorubrum Makino,
Syringa wolfi C. K. Schneid., Dianthus chinensis L., Rosa multiflora Thunb.,
Hypericum ascyron L., Cirsium japonicum DC. var. ussurinese (Regel) Kitam.,
Platycodon grandiflorum (Jacq.) A.DC., Phytolacca insularis Nakai, Hanabusaya
asiatica Nakai, and Anemone narcissiflora L.
Plants which bloom in autumn include Miscanthus sinensis
Anderson, Miscanthus sacchariflorus (Maxim.) Benth., Sedum aizoon L., Gentiana
scabra Bunge, Elscholtzia splendens Nakai, Patrinia scabiosaefolia Fisch., Aster
incisus Fisch., Chrysanthemum zawadskii Herbich, and Lespedeza bicolar Turcz.
During the winter season, Camellia japonica L. can be seen
blooming on Chejudo, the Huksando islands as well as
the southernmost coast.
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Korea belongs to the Palaearctic zoogeographical realm. Its
geographical history, topography and climate divide the peninsula into highland
and lowland districts. Included in the former are the Myohyangsan mountains, the
Kaema Plateau and the more rugged terrain of the T'aebaeksan mountains, all
areas that are high in altitude and similar in climate to the Amur River region.
Most of this area lies about 1,000 kilometers from Mt. Paektusan, on the
Korean-Manchurian border. A large portion of this area is covered with boreal
forests and many of the higher mountains supported glaciers during the
Animal life in and around this area is closely related to that
of the boreal zone of Manchuria, China, Siberia, Sakhalin and Hokkaido.
Representative species include: deer, roe deer, Amur goral, sable, brown bear,
tiger, lynx, northern pika, water shrew, muskrat, Manchurian ring-necked
pheasant, black grouse, hawk owl, pine grosbeak and three-toed woodpecker.
The remainder of the country comprises the lowland peninsular
area, which enjoys a milder climate. The fauna, closely related to that of
southern Manchuria, central China and Japan, include black bear, river deer,
mandarin vole, white-bellied black (or Tristram's) woodpecker, faiy pitta and
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There have been 408 species of birds recorded in South Korea.
Of these, 90 species are vagrants, and the Kuroda's Sheldrake has probably
become extinct. Of the other 317 species, 52 are permanent residents and 265 are
migrants. Of the migratory birds, 112 species will visit the country during
winter season while 63 pass through during the summer and the remaining 90,
during the spring and autumn seasons. One hundred and fifteen species breed in
Korea, of which 52 are indigenous species and 63 are summer visitors. There are
14 other species of birds recorded in North Korea. Of these, the black grouse,
hawk owl, rufous-bellied woodpecker, lesser-spotted woodpecker, black
white-bellied woodpecker, three-toed woodpecker, and rufous-backed bunting are
boreal residents of the high terrain of Mt. Paektusan; the rest are vagrants.
There are six orders, 17 families, 48 genera and 78 species of
indigenous mammals in Korea. These include 28 species of Chiroptera, 18 Rodentia,
16 Carnivora, 11 Insectivora, two Lagomorpha, and seven Artiodactyla (even-toed
ungulates). There are 28 endemic subspecies on record that inhabit the
peninsula, but this is yet to be verified. Large mammals include the tiger,
leopard, lynx, leopard cat, wolf, badger, bear, marten, weasel, wild boar, roe
deer, and Amur goral. A few species such as the bat, shrew, striped hamster and
muskrat are found only in North Korea. The tiger, lynx, two species of deer,
sable, and northern pika are found only in the plateau regions of Mt. Paektusan
in North Korea. Other wildlife species in South Korea include 25 reptiles, 14
amphibians and 130 freshwater fishes.
Seventeen species of terrestrial mammals have been found on
Chejudo island. Wild bear, deer, and wild cat are now extinct and today the land
is inhabited by roe deer, weasel, hamster, field mouse, house rat and two bat
species; there are also 283 forms of birds, and eight amphibians and reptilians
on the island.
Ullungdo island is devoid of
endemic mammals. The island's known mammals consist of six species (two species
of bat, one shrew and three house rats are also found on the Korean mainland).
There are no amphibians or reptiles on the island except for frogs and snakes
which have been introduced by man. As for birds, 63 species have been recorded
on the island.
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Twenty-four species of wildlife have been designated as
natural monuments. In addition, twenty species of bird, two mammal species and
several insect species have been designated as endangered species. There are 18
localities designated as breeding sites (eight egretries and heronries), passing
or wintering sites, or habitats for Tristram's woodpecker, fairy pitta, and
loon. Also designated as monuments are domesticated silky fowl, the Californian
grey whale, the domestic Cheju horse (Chorangmal), the endemic dog called
Chindogae, Sapsalgae and four fish species, Anguilla mormorata
Quoy and Germard, Brachymystax lenox Pallas, Gonoprokopterus mylodon Berg and
Siniperca scherzeri Steindachner.
The following species of animals include those designated as
natural monuments by the Cultural Properties Preservation Law under the auspices
of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. For more detailed list, please refer to
the appendix I located at the end of this chapter.
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Tristram's (or white-bellied black) woodpecker, Dryocopus
Total length: 46 centimeters. A large black and white
woodpecker with a crimson crown and crimson cheek patches. Upper parts, throat
and upper breast, black; the remainder of under parts and rump, white.
Tristram's woodpecker is a permanent resident of Hwanghae-do province, North
Old records indicate that such woodpeckers were collected
occasionally around Hwanghae-do province (North Korea), Ch'ungch'songbuk-do
and Kyongsangnam-do provinces but the only reliable
breeding places that have been reported are Kwangnung
and Kumnung in Kyonggi-do
province. This large woodpecker is a rare resident of the small area of heavy
forested area remaining in Korea. Nesting success in Korea was also confirmed in
the forest of Hwanghae-do province, North Korea. These birds change their
nesting site within a short distance each year.
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White-naped crane, Grus vipio
Total length: 119 centimeters. A pale grey crane with a white
head and neck; grey on the body continues up the sides of the neck in a narrow
line to a little below the eye. Lore naked and red; legs, red.
This bird is a regular winter visitor and passage migrant. The
species is the most abundant of all the cranes in Korea, but its number has
decreased in recent years. In November and February of every year, the flocks of
about 2,000 birds concentrate in the estuary of the Han-gang river and the Ch'sorwon
Basin, Kangwon-do province. The estuary and basin are bird sanctuaries
designated as Natural Monuments No. 250 and 245 respectively. The crane migrates
to Korea in late October and November and winters here until the end of March.
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Baikal Teal, Anas formosa Georgi
The Baikal Teal Anas formosa is a handsome duck found in
Northeast Asia. Although it was extremely common in early this century, in
recent years numbers have declined dramatically, and it now joins the rank of
the three rarest species of teal in the world, along with the Madagascar Teal
Anas bernieri, the New Zealand Brown Teal Anas aucklandica and the Marbled Teal
Marmaronetta augustirostris of Central Asia.
The Baikal Teal is larger than the Common Teal Anas crecca,
and the male is easily identifiable by its striking yellow and green head and
grey and brown body. In comparison, the female has a duller head with a
prominent white circular spot at the base of the bill as well as plainer rufous
The Baikal Teal is now rarely seen during the winter season.
It has been sited in only a few locations in Korea, China and Japan. The present
world population is estimated to be about 75,000 birds. Taking into
consideration this decline in population, the species has only recently been
listed under the CITES conservation in an attempt to monitor international trade
of the species.
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The Baikal Teal only breeds in northeast Russia, preferring
the river valleys and basins of Anadyr, Kolyma, Yana, Indigirka Lena and Amur,
the Okhotsk coast and Kamchatka. It winters in rice fields and wetlands in
Korea, China and Japan. There are records of stray birds from northwestern
India, Nepal, Hong Kong and North America.
The main cause of the decline in numbers is believed to be
hunting. A common traditional method of hunting the Baikal Teal in Japan was the
use of throw nets, whereby huge nets are thrown into bird flocks as they fly at
dusk to regular feeding grounds. Today, shooting is the most common method of
hunting the Baikal Teal, especially in Russia and China. At Lake Khanka in
Russia, there used to be a three-week hunting season of this species when the
birds migrated through. Birds are also killed by adding poisons or pesticides to
grain. Poisoning technique is still practiced in China, and was formally used in
Korea as well.
The Baikal Teal has also become a popular species in wildfowl
collections and zoos, as the birds are so easily collected. Large numbers were
exported by dealers in China and Hong Kong for the international market. Due to
its shy nature, however, the Baikal Teal is a difficult species to breed in
captivity until recently. Consequently, a continuous supply from the wild was
needed to provide new birds for these collections.
Migration routes between breeding and wintering grounds are
not exactly known. They are believed to travel quickly, making use of different
routes in autumn and spring. The birds use river valleys with associated flood
waters, marshes and freshwater lakes during migration. Large numbers used to
pass through southeastern Russia, particularly the Amur Valley and Lake Khanka.
During the springtime, about 5,000-10,000 birds stop over at Lake Khanka.
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The birds leave their breeding grounds in late
August-September and arrive in their wintering grounds in late October. They
depart northwards in March and reach their breeding destinations by April-May.
Little information is available on the breeding biology of the Baikal Teal. The
birds build their nests in grass and sedge tussocks, often in dwarf forests of
birch and willow.
The bill is shaped for filter feeding, with similar filter
palates as those found in Common Teal, but the Baikal Teal has apparently
evolved from an aquatic filter feeder due to its predominantly terrestrial diet.
The main food during the winter season consists of rice grain and seeds, as well
as aquatic invertebrates and fish. Consequently, during this period they are
mainly associated with large flat expanses of rice-fields and large open areas
of freshwater that remain ice-free for safe roosting.
The Baikal Teal was a common passage migrant through Korea on
its way to Japan. With the decline in numbers, however, few birds are believed
to migrate through the Primorye Territory anymore. As recently as 1984, the
Baikal Teal was discovered to winter in Korea. Important wintering sites are Ch'
Consuman impoundment water, Sapkyoho lake of Asanman
bay, Kumgang estuary, the west coast, Tapch'kong
Impoundment Water, Nonsan and the lakes at Ch'nong-am
in the flood plain of the Naktonggang Valley, in Kyongsangnam-do
province. Since 1987, about 70,000 birds have been observed there each winter.
Korea is now the world's largest known concentration of the species, holding
over 90 percent of the world's known population. Small numbers spend the winter
at Up'o Marsh in the Naktonggang Valley, Kyongsangnam-do
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