A wild giant panda mother and calf in Fengtongzhai National Nature Reserve, Baoxing County, southwest China’s Sichuan Province. Photo by Xinhua.
Ecological corridors established in western China have connected fragmented habitats of wild giant pandas, expanding their range of habitats and facilitating hybridization between different subspecies, he said. Xinhua News Agency.
At least two video clips showed giant pandas in ecological corridors earlier this month, indicating that various subspecies from different areas were moving through these corridors, making high-quality crosses possible.
In mid-October, China officially designated the first cluster of five national parks, including the Giant Panda National Park. Covering a total area of 22,000 km², the park spans the provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu.
In Sichuan alone, where 87% of the park is located, six ecological corridors have been established in recent years, at a cost of 374 million yen (about 59 million dollars).
Yin Kaipu, of the Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, was among the first biologists to propose the establishment of ecological corridors.
“We must reduce human activity and make the environment habitable for the giant pandas,“ – Yin, 78, said, adding that plants like bamboo and berries should be planted to simulate the original environment of mixed conifer and deciduous forests.
Following his suggestion, the local government abandoned a hilltop road to make way for giant pandas.
Field studies have shown that the ancient giant pandas’ vast habitat was segmented into separate areas, leading to the isolation of different regional subspecies.
Of the 33 regional subspecies of wild giant pandas, 24 are on the brink of extinction due to their small populations, said Wang Fang, a researcher at the School of Life Sciences at Fudan University.
Wang said isolated habitats lead to inbreeding, and natural disasters or disease can cause extinction.
“The most straightforward and straightforward solution to the problem is to create corridors between isolated areas so that the giant pandas in those areas can move around and breed with each other.,“ – he said.
A pair of subadult giant panda twins in Wolong National Nature Reserve, southwest China’s Sichuan Province. photo by Xinhua.
Fulinyuan, a forestry company based in Pingwu County in Sichuan, was once active in the forestry industry.
In 1998, Sichuan Province initiated a natural forest protection project, with loggers planting axes and collecting shovels to plant trees.
Yu Zhen, vice president of the company, said the forest rangers cultivated fir and bamboo trees to restore the original forest environment.
“With the 100 infrared cameras installed, we captured images of giant pandas six times in the Huangtuliang corridor area.”, – Yu said.
New railroad and highway lines are also making way, with winding tunnels designed to avoid crossing the habitats of wild giant pandas.
Zhou Yuefeng, responsible for the design of the railway line between the capital of Sichuan, Chengdu and Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province, said that these tunnels add 20% of the construction workload.
“One of the tunnels took a ??30 million to build “, – Zhou said, adding that noise and visual barriers have also been built in another tunnel to minimize disturbance to wildlife near the national park.
Zhang Qian, an official with the Sichuan Provincial Forestry and Grassland Bureau, said ecological corridors not only benefit giant pandas, but are also conducive to the migration of other animals.
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