Sunday, January 20, 2008


Now The Cockroach Catcher knows. Yunnan, my birthplace, is one of the most important provinces of China for its bio-diversity. This is a view of its mountains.

©2007 Am Ang Zhang/Bauhinia Press

Occupying only 4.1% of the total area of China, it has over 70% of country's protected wild animals and and over 50% of its high altitude plant species. Geographically, it is north of Vietnam and east of Tibet. You can find more than 400 different kinds of flowers in Kunming, the capital of the province nicknamed "city of spring". I took the photo of this cymbidium orchid there.

©2007 Am Ang Zhang/Bauhinia Press
It might turn out one day that plants are more important than animals in terms of service to mankind. Two most important drugs mentioned in the book are derived from plants. Vincristine in VAMP treatment for leukaemia is derived from the Madagasca Periwinkle. Artemisinin from Artemisia annua was noted in The Ancient Chinese Pharmacopoea dating back to 200 b.c. for the treatment of Swamp Fever. The WHO has now approved an Artemisinin based combination treatment for malaria. By chance Artemisia annua was found growing by the banks of the Potomac River, Washington D.C. and the rest so to speak was history. The world was fortunate that herbicides have not been widely applied around the Capital City of the United States. Unfortunately for medicine, politics dictate what could and could not be shared. For mankind's sake let us hope that "medecins sans frontiere" is really without frontier.

The Naxi tribe of Yunnan had a long tradition of passing on their history verbally through thousands of years of story telling. Their insight into the creation of the universe and more locally of mountains and rivers are now subject of academic research. We saw them performing at the World Heritage Site of Lijiang.

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