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Panda expert denies "habitat moving"

06-29-2010 08:57 BJT

CHENGDU, June 28 (Xinhua) -- The habitat of giant pandas was not "shifting northward" as some people claimed, a noted expert on giant panda conservation said Monday.

"There has not been drastic climate changes at the giant panda's habitat in the mountains of Sichuan Province," said Zhang Hemin, head of the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in Wolong. "Little damage has been done to their habitat."

The habitat of giant pandas was not "shifting northward" as some people claimed, a noted expert on giant panda conservation said Monday.(File Photo)
The habitat of giant pandas was not "shifting northward" as some people 
claimed, a noted expert on giant panda conservation said Monday.
(File Photo)

A panda researcher with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said on Saturday that giant pandas might be migrating northward because of the combined impact of climate change and the devastating earthquake of 2008.

Warmer and drier weather will destroy the bear's food supplies, while the 8.0-magnitude quake had damaged their habitat, Monday's China Daily quoted Ling Lin, deputy executive director of WWF's Chengdu program office, as saying.

Zhang, however, said despite slight temperature rises in some years, no drastic climate change or precipitation decrease had been reported in Sichuan.

"Without temperature hikes or a drop in rainfall, there won't be a sudden, continuous shortage of arrow bamboo, the giant panda's favorite food, and other vegetation," said Zhang, a renowned panda expert who led the way in breeding giant pandas through artificial insemination.

Against a backdrop of global warming, however, Zhang said temperature rises and precipitation decreases were probably inevitable. "But I don't think the pandas will migrant in large numbers as long as there's enough food and water."

The giant panda is regarded as a "living fossil" because its ancestors are believed to have lived in China more than 8 million years ago. Its habitat today covers heavily forested areas 2,400 to 3,500 meters above sea level, mainly in Sichuan, as well as Shaanxi and Gansu provinces in northwestern China.

Wolong Nature Reserve, a 200,000-hectare area founded in 1963, was damaged in the massive earthquake of May 2008 and all the pandas were sent to the Ya'an reserve.

Rebuilding of the Wolong base was completed this year and its 154 captive-bred pandas -- including 31 born in the past two years, are expected to return soon.

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: Xinhua

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