Giant pandas in the wild are facing possible food shortages as
the bamboo they like flowers and dies without being replaced,
naturalists have said.
The plants are a staple of the pandas' diet and flower as part
of a natural cycle to produce seedlings for the next batch of
The species the bears prefer flowers every 30-80 years before
Yang Xuyu, deputy head of the wild animal preservation station
of the forestry bureau in Sichuan Province, issued the warning on
Sunday at the annual meeting of the China Giant Panda Breeding
Technical Committee held in the provincial capital of Chengdu.
He said there have been 24,000 hectares of bamboo flowering
spotted in the province, where 1,206 pandas live in 40 nature
The reserves have a total area of 1.77 million hectares,
accounting for 77 percent of the total panda habitat.
Bamboo blossoms have been spotted in 14 counties in Sichuan
since 2005. Nine varieties of bamboo have been seen flowering,
which in turn account for 30 percent of the types eaten by the
panda, Yang said.
"So far, no wild panda has been found starved to death.
"However, as the area of bamboo flowering continues to spread,
we will need to keep a very close watch on their food supply," he
In 1984 and 1987, mountainous regions witnessed extensive
blossoming of the arrow bamboo - the pandas' favorite variety -
where the plants flowered, seeded and died.
Yang said that in the past, pandas adapted to the natural
recurrence of bamboo die-offs by relocating.
(Xinhua News Agency November 13, 2007)