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Sichuan's iconic pandas prove a visitor magnet

Sichuan, China : About 10 kilometres from downtown Chengdu city, Sichuan province, lies the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, a world-famous facility dedicated to the large bears and tourism drawcard.

The ecological demonstration project covers 100 ha and has become well-known for protecting and breeding endangered wildlife such as giant pandas and red pandas which are endemic to China.

Three pandas enjoy eating bamboo at the base in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

In dealing with pandas over the past 30 years, the base has tackled such key technological bottlenecks as artificial feeding and management, breeding and rearing infants, disease prevention and population heredity management.

According to the base, in the 1980s it saved six starving giant pandas. Since then, relying on innovative technology and without capturing any wild giant pandas, the base has bred 143 pandas.

A tour guide, who asked not to be named, told Asian journalists that last year there were over three million visitors to this base. Currently, the base has 183 pandas with the Chinese wild population estimated at 1,881.

“Over the last few years, quite a lot of baby pandas have been born at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and last year there 23 born,” she explained.

Giant pandas are very intelligent and this is reflected in their exceptional foraging strategy. They not only choose the bamboo species with highest nutrition value, but also eat the bamboo parts that hold the most nutrients in the order of bamboo shoots, tender bamboo leaves, and then bamboo stalks.

Their daily intake is roughly 23-40kg of bamboo shoots, 10-18kg of bamboo leaves and 17kg of bamboo stalks.

The base has paid a great deal of attention to balancing scientific research and tourist development, and this has shaped the sustainable development of industry and university tourism research cooperation.

By simulating the wild ecological environment of giant pandas through landscape architecture, the base has set up a delivery room, breeding area, scientific and research centre and hospital along with ‘luxury villa residences' for giant pandas scattered in the forest, where pandas of different ages live harmoniously.

In 1998, the base was evaluated as a World Natural Heritage site sharing the same reputation as the scenic Jiuzhaigou Valley by the World Tourism Organisation.

In 2000, the base took the lead in carrying out public protection education in the national wildlife protection system and establishing a science popularisation and education department.

Under the guidance of China Wildlife Conservation Association, the base has introduced advanced protection and education programmes to raise public awareness about panda conservation across the nation.

At present, the base carries out cooperation with many countries and organisations and has built an extensive liaison and cooperation network.

It has successively gained numerous titles to recognise its efforts in environmental conservation, education and tourism.



By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update August 4, 2017)

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