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China reports expanding panda habitats

2015-02-28 15:38 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

A national survey found the habitat areas of China's giant panda expanded 11.8 percent from the previous survey period ending in 2003.

The giant panda habitat area reached 2.58 million hectares at the end of 2013, 72.4 percent of which is suitable for the animals, according to survey results released by the State Forestry Administration (SFA) on Saturday.

The three-year survey, which ended in October 2014, found wild pandas in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, with Sichuan having the largest habitat areas.

The country has set up 27 new nature reserves for giant pandas, bringing the total number to 67, which contributed to the increase in the giant panda population, said Chen Fengxue, deputy head of the SFA.

According to the latest survey, there were 1,864 giant pandas living in the wild in China, an increase of 268 pandas or 16.8 percent from the previous survey.

Chen said infrastructure construction of hydropower plants, roads, rapid development of mining and tourism have disturbed giant panda habitats, exacerbating habitat fragmentation and threatening the survival and reproduction of giant pandas.

According to the survey, 319 hydropower plants, 1,339 km of roads, 268.7 km of high-voltage transmission lines, 984 residential areas, 479 mines and 25 tourist attractions posed major disturbances to panda habitats.

China has carried out three national surveys on giant pandas -- one each in the 1970s, 1980s and early this century -- to help preserve the highly endangered species.

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