Four giant pandas were sighted in the wild within two days by staff members of a nature reserve in northwest China during their regular patrol in the reserve.
When a team of staffers with Baishui River National Nature Reserve trekked in the area, they came across a baby giant panda dangling in a tree on March 30. And the next morning, they captured an adult panda coming out of a bamboo grove near a brook. But to their great surprise, they saw another two giant pandas having fun in trees in the afternoon of the same day.
Liu Wannian, deputy director of Baishui River National Nature Reserve Administration, said he was excited about the rare sighting in his career of nearly 30 years of working in the forest.
"The last time that I saw giant pandas in the wild was 1995. We're very lucky to see four of them at one time," he said.
They think their luck of spotting these rare animals may be attributed to the fact that giant pandas are in the mating season, which usually falls between March and May. That's the only period when the solitary animal leaves its own territory.
"The second panda they met might be fleeing after a failed mating. The third panda and the fourth one were in trees now and under trees then, enjoying themselves," Liu said.
Liu said he believes the encounters would be impossible without improved ecological protection efforts made by the local authorities, such as promoting tea planting and prohibiting firewood cutting.
"After entering the forest, we basically saw little human activities, so this area is heaven for giant pandas. It's a no man's land in the nature reserve, and giant pandas lead a carefree life there," said Liu.
Result of the fourth national survey shows that about 110 giant pandas are living in the Baishui River National Nature Reserve.