Spotting wild pandas is a rare occurrence, but the lucky villagers of Gari village, Qiaoqi township in Baoxing, Sichuan province, had a memorable experience on Saturday morning at 5:20 am.
While driving to the pasture, they spotted two wild pandas leisurely strolling on the mountain road. It seemed that the light from their vehicle had alerted the pandas, as they cautiously moved to opposite ends of the road.
According to Feng Taomao, a staff member of the county publicity department, a villager named Li had filmed a wild panda near his house the previous evening around 9 pm. Despite being exposed to the light from Li's cell phone, the panda remained calm and slowly made its way towards the bamboo forest.
Baoxing is renowned as a habitat for pandas, with 99.7 percent of its 3,114 square kilometers being mountainous. Around 75 percent of this land is designated as a core area for panda protection.
Between 1957 and 1982, China gifted 24 pandas to nine different countries, with 17 of them originating from Baoxing. However, since 1982, China has shifted to cooperative research instead of sending pandas as national gifts. More than 50 pandas and their descendants have been sent abroad through this collaborative initiative, as mentioned in a display located in Dengchigou Catholic Church in the county.
According to China's fourth panda census, released in 2015, there were 1,864 wild pandas recorded by the end of 2013. Out of these, 181 were found in Baoxing. The giant panda habitat in Sichuan, including Baoxing, was also designated as a part of the World Natural Heritage List by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in July 2006. This habitat spans 9,245 square kilometers.