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223 wild giant pandas at high risk for survival: survey

2015-02-28 16:08 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

A total of 223 giant pandas living in the wild are at high risk for survival, according to the results of an official survey on the highly endangered mammal.

The giant pandas, living in 24 isolated populations in the wild, accounted for 12 percent of the total in the wild, according to the survey conducted by the State Forestry Administration (SFA).

They are living "at high risk for survival and the situation is still alarming," said a survey report released here on Saturday.

As a result of geographic isolation and human intervention, the wild population is fragmented to 33 isolated populations, among which, 22 populations with less than 30 individuals are on the brink of extinction and in particular those 18 populations with less than 10 individuals are facing extremely high risk of extinction, said the report.

The future for another two isolated populations in south Minshan and middle Daxiangling mountains is not optimistic due to the small size, low increasing rate and the damage caused by the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.

The challenges for giant panda protection came in the context of a generally improving picture which showed that the population of giant pandas in the wild had increased by 268 to 1,864 from more than 10 years ago.

The habitat areas of giant pandas also expanded by 11.8 percent to 2.58 million hectares from 2003.

"There are still outstanding conflicts between the protection of the giant pandas and their habitats and the local socioeconomic development," said Chen Fengxue, deputy head of the SFA, at a press conference.

"It can be concluded that the protection of giant pandas is still quite an arduous task," Chen added.

Habitats fragmentation is the major factor threatening the survival of giant pandas. The survey finds that major disturbances in the habitats of wild giant pandas include 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.

Due to the differences in location and management system, the exchange between different breeding centers and captive individuals is not enough and yet to be improved to increase the genetic diversity and the populations' resiliency.

The capacity of conservation needs to be strengthened, concluded the survey.

In some areas, the budget is insufficient and the technical capacity of the front line staff is relatively low, which has restrained the effects of giant panda protection, the survey found.

Read more:

China reports 16.8-pct increase in wild panda population

China reports expanding panda habitats

42 giant pandas living abroad in 12 countries: survey

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