New panda monitoring and research center opens near Xi'an
Xi'an, China - The Shaanxi Forestry Department recently opened the region’s first panda monitoring and research center in the Qinling mountains, the giant panda's northernmost habitat. Though WWF has been working with the Shaanxi Forestry Department to conduct monitoring and patrolling work in the Qinling mountains since 2001, this marks the first permanent research and monitoring center in the region, which will undertake regular monitoring of wildlife in the region.
The Qinling mountains contain the highest panda population density in China. They are home to approximately 20% (approximately 300 individulas) of China's total wild panda population. Encompassing a total area of 52,000 km2, the Qinling Mountains are also home to other endangered species including the golden monkey, takin, crested ibis, golden eagle, and clouded leopard. It is the only water source for Xi'an, China's ancient capital, which today has a population of over seven million.
Currently there are eleven protected areas (Taibai, Fuoping, Zhouzhi, Changqing, Laoxiancheng, Ningshan, Guanyin, Tianhua, Motian, Sangyuan and Ningqiangqing muchuan) in the Qinling mountains, covering about 70% of panda habitat in Qinling.
In order to understand giant pandas' living conditions, population, distribution and habitat situation, as well as determine the effectiveness of current panda conservation measures, it's necessary to conduct research and collect detailed information. With support from WWF, the Chinese government conducted national surveys of the giant panda habitat in 1976, 1987 and 2000.
However, in addition to the national surveys, more frequent research is necessary to protect the habitat of the giant panda. In 1992, the Shaanxi Forestry Department began monitoring and patrolling in Fuoping Nature Reserve. In 2001-2002, with support and training from WWF, monitoring and patrolling began in Fuoping, Changqing, and Laoxiancheng reserves, as well as Longcaoping Forest Farm.
The Shaanxi panda research center is undertaking research and management for the Qinling panda habitat, providing training for nature reserve and other conservation staff, and establishing a GIS database. The center is also working with partners including the Shaanxi Forest Bureau Wildlife Management Department, researchers from local protected areas, and experts from colleges and institutes.
WWF's Qinling Focal Project was officially launched in March 2002 and is being implemented in Shaanxi with the aim of protecting the giant panda habitat and reducing fragmentation in this important distribution area for the giant panda. The project also seeks to mobilize non-conventional stakeholders to adopt and apply conservation and sustainable use approaches in their policies, decision-making, investments, and consumption behaviors.
It is estimated that as few as 1,000 pandas remain in the wild today. Increased protection and linkage of the panda habitat is vital to the survival of the giant panda population. The species could face extinction through inbreeding and other problems if confined solely to existing nature reserves. Human land use has restricted the species to fragmented populations, many with fewer than 50 individuals.
For more information, please contactChris Chaplin, Communications Officer, WWF-China
+86 10 6511 6237, firstname.lastname@example.org