Suoxiyu Valley

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Suoxiyu (Suoxi Valley) Nature Reserve, located in Cili County, Hunan Province and whose name in the Tujia dialect means "Fog-laden"-is the largest of Wulingyuan Scenic Area's three subsections, spanning more than 180 square kilometers.

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Suoxiyu Valley
Suoxiyu Valley

The three original subsections of Wulingyuan Scenic Area form a horizontally-oriented triangle whose southern point is Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, whose northern point is Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve and whose eastern point is Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve (a fourth subsection, Yangjiajie Scenic Area, was later added).

Suoxiyu Valley
Suoxiyu Valley

Roughly speaking, Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve is divided into a large, western part that is characterized by sandstone bedrock and a somewhat smaller, eastern part that is characterized by limestone bedrock, the latter of which-given that limestone, at least the softer, more porous parts of it, is relatively easily dissolved (eroded away) by water-is further characterized by karst caves, underwater streams, deep crevices in the surface (some of which reach a depth of 600 meters), and grotesquely shaped surface rocks. The topography of the sandstone section of Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve is characterized by mountain peaks and sheer cliff faces, by rivers-and waterfalls and by brooks. There are dense forests in the eastern part of the valley and thick copses and scattered individual trees growing everywhere in the western part of the valley, also on the craggy surfaces of the mountain peaks.

Suoxiyu Valley
Suoxiyu Valley

With respect to fauna, there are some 20 species of rare animals living and thriving in Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve ĘC albeit, in some cases, rare only in a local sense ĘC including the common leopard (Panthera pardus), the Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla, aka scaly anteater, looking like a 'cross between a sloth and an armadillo', according to US pilots (The Raven Forward Air Controllers, aka "The Ravens") flying in support of the Hmong ethnic minority of Laos during the Vietnam War (think of the 1990 film, Air America, with Mel Gibson and Robert Downey, Jr.)) and the giant salamander (Andrias davidianus). Within Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve, there are over 20 groups of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), numbering over 1000 individuals.

Suoxiyu Valley
Suoxiyu Valley

Not surprisingly, Suoxi Valley also boasts a rich flora, with about 700 species of trees alone as well as thousands of lesser plants, whereof about 500 species are classified as medicinal herbs, some 20 of which are so rare that they enjoy special state protection. One of the most striking features of Suoxi Valley, apart from the strangely eroded mountain peaks, the karst caves, the many rivers, waterfalls and brooks, is that lush vegetation abounds everywhere, in the form of trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers, and it is perhaps this pervasive carpet of vegetation that dampens sounds, adding to the mysteriousness and charm of Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve.

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