China’s wild giant panda population rises 17 percent in a decade


Giant pandas, a national treasure in China, have long faced endangerment — which is why China began protection efforts in the 1960s. A new national survey has found that the population of wild giant pandas in China reached 1,864 at the end of 2013, a 16.8 percent increase from a decade ago.

Meanwhile the number of captive pandas in China reached 375, Chen Fengxue, deputy director of State Forestry Administration said.

The latest results come from China’s fourth national survey of giant pandas. Wild giant pandas can only be found in Shaanxi, Gansu, and Sichuan provinces — where more than 70 percent of all giant pandas live. The species’ steady increase is attributed to legislation, state-funded protection efforts, and research programs.

According to the survey, while the number of wild pandas are on the rise, one-third of them, or about 600, are still not in nature reserves. These pandas are dispersed in small groups and often are near power stations, roads, and high-voltage power lines, which can seriously threaten their lives and reproduction.

“From this year, we’ll absolutely not allow tourism, mining, or building parks and villas in or around giant panda habitats. We’ll expand nature reserves as much as possible and channel the 33 isolated groups in three or five years.” Chen said.

International cooperation is also an important part of panda research.

“Since the 1990s, China has not given any pandas away as gifts. We selected foreign zoos to cooperate in research with us. Currently 42 panda adults and cubs are living abroad in 12 countries.” Jia Jiansheng, deputy director of Wildlife Conservation Dept, State Forestry Administration said.

Story compiled with information from Xinhua News.