More wild pandas found in Sichuan
WILD pandas have been spotted three times at the foot of Jiajin Mountain in Sichuan province since July last year, which conservationists link to improvements in the ecological health of the area.
Sichuan began imposing bans on the felling of virgin forests in 1998 to protect the ecology of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.
"The efforts have paid off on Jiajin Mountain where there are more lush trees, less landslides and more wild pandas," said Zhang Hemin, chief of the China Conservation And Research Center For The Giant Panda.
The latest census tallied 1,864 wild pandas and 375 captive pandas worldwide at the end of 2013.
Despite the rise in the number of wild pandas, they remain an endangered species.
Pandas survive solely along the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in six mountain ranges. But their habitat, which totals about 23,050 sq km, is vulnerable.
With most valleys in their ranges inhabited by humans, many panda populations are isolated in narrow belts of bamboo no more than 1,000m to 2,000m in width.
Twenty-four of the 33 groups of wild pandas found in the most recent census are believed to be endangered, with some groups having fewer than 30 members, Mr Zhang said.
Eighteen groups have fewer than 10 pandas each and are in severe danger of dying off.
THE CHINA DAILY/
ASIA NEWS NETWORK