The catastrophic Wenchuan earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province on May 12, 2008 not only turned millions of people homeless overnight, but also badly damaged the habitats of many rare wild animals, including giant pandas. Three years later, as survivors of the disaster finish rebuilding their homes and moving on with their lives, conservationists are now assessing the living conditions of thousands of wild animals which inhabit the area.
A special campaign to promote public awareness on panda conservation was launched May 5 in Chengdu. [Zong Chao/china.org.cn]
In the spirit of these natural habit reconstruction efforts, a special campaign to promote public awareness on giant panda conservation was formally launched in Chengdu on May 5. Entitled "Crossing the panda habitats and visiting the panda guardians," The campaign was organized by the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) and the Department of Forestry of Sichuan Province.
In the next seven days, reporters from all over China, including china.org.cn, will visit several giant panda reserves badly damaged during the fatal earthquake. Journalists will view first-hand the current living conditions of pandas in the wild and get a chance to speak to zoologists about the latest panda protection efforts.
"With generous donations from all over the country, we have successfully restored the habitats of pandas to the level before the earthquake," said Li Qingwen, deputy secretary general of the CWCA at the campaign's launching ceremony.
"The campaign will better help the world to understand the rare animal, which not only belongs to China, but is also an important part of the world's natural heritage," Li said.
According to the province's Department of Forestry, the third panda census [conducted in 2001] showed that around 1,596 giant panda exist in the wild in China's Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, in addition to around 300 captive pandas living in captivity around the world. Nearly 80 percent of wild pandas inhabit Sichuan.
"It's hard to tell whether the number of pandas has increased in the past ten years," said Li Jianguo, secretary of the Sichuan Wildlife Conservation Association. Li added that "birth control" measures have been taken for some captivate pandas to avoid potential harmful effects of inbreeding.
Li Jianguo said a fourth census to be released in 2012 would hopefully resolve some of the inaccuracies that occurred during the third census, which occurred in part due to the difficulties of navigating the region's rough terrain as well as encounters with "illegal loggers."