Yuen-nan is bordered on the north by Tibet and S’suchuan, on the west by Burma, on the south by Tonking, and on the east by Kwei-chau Province. Faunistically the entire northwestern part of Yuen-nan is essentially Tibetan, and the plateaus and mountain peaks range from altitudes of 8,000 feet to 20,000 feet above sea level. In the south and west along the borders of Burma and Tonking, in the low fever-stricken valleys, the climate is that of the mid-tropics, and the native life, as well as the fauna and flora, is of a totally different type from that found in the north.
The natives of Yuen-nan are exceptionally interesting. There are about thirty non-Chinese tribes in the province, some of whom, such as the Shans and Lolos, represent the aboriginal inhabitants of China, and it is safe to say that in no similar area of the world is there such a variety of language and dialects as in this region.
Although the main work of the Expedition was to be conducted in Yuen-nan, we decided to spend a short time in Fukien Province, China, and endeavor to obtain a specimen of the so-called “blue tiger” which has been seen twice by the Reverend Harry R. Caldwell, a missionary and amateur naturalist, who has done much hunting in the vicinity of Foochow.
The white members of the first Asiatic Zooelogical Expedition included Mr. Edmund Heller, my wife (Yvette Borup Andrews) and myself. A Chinese interpreter, Wu Hung-tao, with five native assistants and ten muleteers, completed the personnel.
Mr. Heller is a collector of wide experience. His early work, which was done in the western United States and the Galapagos Islands, was followed by many years of collecting in Mexico, Alaska, South America, and Africa. He first visited British East Africa with Mr. Carl E. Akeley, next with ex-President Theodore Roosevelt, and again with Mr. Paul J. Rainey. During the Asiatic Zooelogical Expedition Mr. Heller devoted most of his time to the gathering and preparation of small mammals. He joined our party late in July in China.
Mrs. Andrews was the photographer of the Expedition. She had studied photography as an amateur in Germany, France, and Italy, as well as in New York, and had devoted especial attention to the taking of photographs in natural colors. Such work requires infinite care and patience, but the results are well worth the efforts expended.
Wu Hung-tao is a native of Foochow, China, and studied English at the Anglo-Chinese College in that city. He lived for some time in Teng-yueh, Yuen-nan, in the employ of Mr. F.W. Carey, Commissioner of Customs, and not only speaks mandarin Chinese but also several native dialects. He acted as interpreter, head “boy,” and general field manager. My own work was devoted mainly to the direction of the Expedition and the hunting of big game.
In order to reduce the heavy transportation charges we purchased only such equipment in New York as could not be obtained in Shanghai or Hongkong. Messrs. Shoverling, Daly & Gales furnished our guns, ammunition, tents, and general camp equipment, and gave excellent satisfaction in attention to the minor details which often assume alarming importance when an expedition is in the field and defects cannot be remedied. All food and commissary supplies were purchased in Hongkong (see Chapter IX).