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102 pandas in Gansu reserve safe: official
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The giant pandas in China's largest giant panda reserve in Gansu Province, which were reported to be missing after the May 12 earthquake, are considered to be safe and well, local forestry officials said on Thursday.

"Our reserve was seriously affected by the quake," Li Shiren, an official of the Baishuijiang Nature Reserve Administration told the Beijing Morning Post.

A file photo of the Baishuijiang Nature Reserve in Gansu Province

The administration's seven work stations in the reserve were damaged to different extents, and the mountain roads were all blocked. 50 forestry workers in the mountain lost contacts with the administration for about one day after the quake hit, but were confirmed safe later, according to Li.

After the quake, the administration sent two teams, about 90 researchers altogether, into the reserve to check out the pandas' safety, and the second team has just returned on Wednesday.

"All the pandas in the reserve are safe, according to our experience," Li Shiren said.

The researchers traced fresh excrements of pandas and heard their sounds for many times. And the 64 forest rangers, who live in the reserve all year long, didn't find any abnormal behaviors of the pandas.

"Giant panda is a very sensitive animal. It will stay in its cave if anything usual happens. Besides, pandas in the reserve will go down the hill everyday to drink water, which makes it easy for our workers to spot anything out of the way," Li added.

Li also confirmed the bamboos in the reserve, which is a major source of food for the pandas, remain sufficient in amount.

(CRI May 30, 2008)

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