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Reconstruction means hope for giant pandas: Zhang Hemin
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By Wang Wei
China.org.cn staff reporter in Sichuan

With the anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake approaching, reconstruction work is now in full swing in the Wolong Nature Reserve. While bad memories linger on, the main trauma fades – Wolong is breeding new hope for giant pandas.

Zhang Hemin, chief of the Wolong Nature Reserve Administration, was interviewed by China.org.cn at Bifengxia Base in Ya'an City, Sichuan Province April 29, 2009. [China.org.cn]

Zhang Hemin, chief of the Wolong Nature Reserve Administration, was interviewed by China.org.cn at Bifengxia Base in Ya'an City, Sichuan Province April 29, 2009. [China.org.cn] 

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Wolong reserve, 10 kilometers from the epicenter, was severely damaged in the quake last year. The quake left one panda dead, one injured and another one missing.

According to Zhang Hemin, chief of the Wolong Nature Reserve Administration, reconstruction work mainly involves two big projects: one is to construct a new China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) in the Huangcaoping area of the Wolong nature reserve; the other is to build a panda disease control and prevention center in Dujiangyan, a city near the Sichuan provincial capital, Chengdu.

"Our aim is to bring the number of pandas in captivity up to 300, which will ensure the survival of the species for the next century with a genetic diversity of 95 percent."

Memory: Severe damage by quake and great spirit of Wolongers

The Wolong reserve, once famous for its harmony between human and nature, suffered a devastating blow from the earthquake.

"With severe damage to the infrastructure, total economic losses amounted to more than 1.9 billion yuan," Zhang told China.org.cn.

File photo shows a panda enclosure was severely damaged at the Wolong reserve due to the devastating earthquake. [China.org.cn]

File photo shows a panda enclosure was severely damaged at the Wolong reserve due to the devastating earthquake. [China.org.cn] 

Of the 32 panda enclosures, 14 were buried or totally destroyed and the other 18 severely damaged. The Panda Hospital, built with a donation from the Hong Kong Ocean Park, was also rendered unsafe after the quake. All the pandas were frightened to a greater or lesser extent.

Zhang indicated that 7 percent of the reserve was totally destroyed, in particular those areas at an altitude of less than 2,500 meters. Earthquake-induced landslides and debris flows damaged over 6,000 hectares of surface vegetation, which was a serious blow to the pandas' habitat.

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