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Another Giant Panda Population Found in Sichuan
Another population of giant pandas was found in Lixian County of southwest China’s Sichuan Province recently, according to experts from the State Forestry Administration.

The finding, for the first time in the county, “is of great significance in interconnecting the isolated nature reserves of giant pandas,” said panda expert Tang Chunxiang.

Two giant pandas, as well as some droppings, were witnessed by seven farmers last June in a bamboo forest near Kezeng Village in the county. They reported the finding to the China Wolong Giant Panda Protection Research Center in the province.

After testing the droppings, experts in the center confirmed that it was the dejection of pandas.

“Giant pandas rarely act alone,” said Tang. “So the founded pandas are at least of a small flock in this area.”

Though located to the north of the Wolong Giant Panda Nature Reserve, Lixian County was not recognized as one of pandas’ natural habitats. Three investigations carried out since 1980 all failed to find the trace of pandas in the county.

There are 1,000 wild giant pandas in the world, mainly distributing among the mountains around the Sichuan Basin, southwest China. And the number of distributing regions of giant pandas has plummeted in the past decade. Now, only 34 counties in China have wild giant pandas with a total habitat covering 14,000 square km.

However, the existing natural habitats were divided into smaller areas isolated from each other, resulting in the inbreeding among the giant pandas.

Experts warned that inbreeding may speed up the extinction of the giant pandas if the trend continues.

The discovery of giant pandas in Lixian County may further promote the intercourse between different panda populations, Tang said.

Efforts are being made in Lixian County to demarcate the nature reserves for the giant pandas.

(Xinhua News Agency 09/05/2001)

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