China is a large country, occupying 9,600,000 km2. It lies between longitudes 73°40′E and 135° 05′E, a distance of some 5,200 km. Mountainous in the west and flat in the east, the land surface of China slopes downward from west to east in a three-step staircase and can be divided into moist, semi-moist, semi-arid and arid regions from the east coast to the inland north-west respectively. From north to south, China covers frigid, temperate, subtropical and tropical zones. All of this variation in geographical and climate conditions combine to give it a high diversity of fauna and flora.
The country is rich in Galliformes. Sixty-one species of two families (Tetraonidae and Phasianidae) are found in the country (Cheng 1994), which is about 22% of the 277 Galliformes species of the world (Sibley and Monroe 1990). In recent decades, as a result of big changes in the environments and the increasing human activities, the ranges of Chinese Galliformes have decreased and the population densities have declined (Zheng and Zhang 1993). The status of the country's Galliformes was assessed in the mid 1990s as part of two global reviews: through the compilation of IUCN/World Pheasant Association (WPA) action plans for pheasants (McGowan and Garson 1995) and partridges (McGowan et al., 1995), and through the revision of BirdLife International's list of threatened bird species (Collar et al. 1994). Both assessments considered that a high proportion of the world's threatened Galliformes occurred in China.