About Nature Watch
Valley of the Cats Nature Watch is a community-based ecotourism project. According to the IUCN, ecotourism refers to "environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features—both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations". In 1987, the United Nations published the report "Our Common Future", which identified the need for sustainable development and resource conservation. Since then, ecotourism, which contributes to both socioeconomic and environmental benefits, has entered both the academic and public eye. In addition to the most commonly used term "ecotourism", tourism programs based on natural landscapes and biodiversity are also described as "sustainable tourism", "nature watch", "nature observation", "conservation tourism", "green tourism", etc,.
With the growing concern for the lives of people living in nature reserves, community-based ecotourism is considered by more people as a much desirable solution for achieving conservation and development with the focus on the direct participation of local communities in project management and operation. Nature watch program integrates nature conservation and social development. By serving as guides and host families, local herders can earn an increased amount of income and realize that protecting their home landscape and wildlife will benefit their own families and communities, thus diminishing the possibility of consuming natural resources in exchange for money.
Nature Watch Festivals
Prior to the official launch of Nature Watch Pilot Project, two nature watch festivals were held in Angsai. Nature watch enthusiasts from all over the world came to the pilot national park to observe wildlife and also to provide their valuable input to the construction of the national park. These two nature watch festivals also allowed herders to experience for the first time the meaning and responsibility of being a guide.
From August 17-22, 2016, the People’s Government of Zaduo County, Yushu Prefecture, the Management Committee of Lancang River Park in Sanjiangyuan National Park, Shan Shui Conservation Center and Peking University Center for Nature and Society jointly held the First Lancang River International Nature Watch Festival in Angsai, Zaduo County, Qinghai.
Over the course of 4 days, 14 teams identified and recorded the distribution of animals, birds and plants through videos and images, helping to establish the baseline data of Angsai Lancang River Valley. Preliminary statistics showed that a total of 10 mammal species, 61 bird and 93 plant species were recorded. Behind the fruitful harvest of each participant, there was also invisible progress. The local community received the most participation and benefit from this nature watch model that focused on biodiversity awareness and viewing.
From July 21-24, 2018, Angsai held the Second International Nature Watch Festival. 20 teams from China, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and other countries participated in this festival, during which 13 mammal species, 73 bird species, 315 plant species and 4 reptile species were recorded.