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Mt Qinling Panda Habitat Expands
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The habitat of giant pandas in the Qinling Mountains has been expanded and their general quality of life improved, a survey shows.

"Compared with what was found in the previous survey conducted between 1974 and 1977, the habitat has expanded 26 km to the east, 39 km to the west and four km to south and north respectively," Yuan Wei, an official of the Shaanxi Provincial Forestry Administration Bureau, said.

The second survey, conducted between 1985 and 1988, also found that there is an abundant source of bamboo in the mountains. The pandas rely on bamboo for food.

With the support of the World Wildlife Fund, the bureau began a project in April last year to gain a better knowledge of the life and habitat of the pandas.

It covered 19 panda reserves in 10 counties in southern Shaanxi, Yuan said.

The Qinling Mountains in southern Shaanxi is a major habitat for pandas. The rare species are found only in China.

The survey found 243 pandas living in the area, compared to 237 in the previous survey, Yuan said.

Their habitat was divided into five separate areas dictated by logging, road construction and other human activities.

"Fortunately, the latest survey found that the areas are now becoming one with the construction of five linked corridors," Yuan said.

Zhou Lingguo, deputy director of the protection department of the provincial forestry administration bureau, said about 70 percent of the Qinling Mountains habitat has now been designated as a natural reserve for pandas.

(China Daily July 24, 2007)

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