National parks to protect rare species

Updated: 2016-04-29 08:15

By Su Zhou su(China Daily)

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Conservation experts working to consolidate habitat management to encourage reproduction

Habitat fragmentation remains the major factor threatening the survival of giant pandas in the wild, a senior official from China's wildlife watchdog agency said.

Zhang Xiwu, director of the Wildlife Conservation and Nature Reserve Management Department of the State Forestry Administration, said on Thursday that, in the next five years, China will complete the establishment of four national parks to protect the giant panda, Asian elephant, Tibetan antelope and Amur leopard and tiger.

In June, the National Development and Reform Commission of China and the Paulson Institute announced a three-year partnership to develop China's emerging national park system. The partnership will pilot the park system in nine provinces by exploring models that fit the Chinese context and reflect international standards.

"Protecting habitat is the key to protecting wildlife," Zhang said. "However, 87.7 percent of wild animals are seeing their living spaces squeezed or their communications split, along with the effects of human activities." That's according to the national wildlife resources survey, Zhang said.

For example, although the number of giant pandas in China reached 1,864 in 2014, their habitats contained 319 hydropower stations, 1,339 kilometers of roads, 268 kilometers of high-voltage transmission lines, 984 districts with more than 50 residents, 479 mines and 25 scenic spots.

Due to geographic isolation and human intervention, wild giant pandas are fragmented into 33 isolated populations. Twenty-four of those have fewer than 100 pandas.

Wang Hao, senior scientist at Peking University's Center for Nature and Society said fragmented habitats increase the risk that small, dispersed populations will become cut off, limiting their chances to contact each other and reproduce.

Zhang said wildlife habitat in China is managed by different government agencies, which hampers habitat improvement.

"For example, we have nature reserves, scenic spots, forest parks, geological parks and wetland parks. Those are all in different regions and have different administrative bodies," Zhang said. "That's the reason why we are speeding up the establishment of national parks to integrate one species' habitat under a united management system."

The first national park for the Tibetan antelope was established in the Tibet autonomous region in September.

 National parks to protect rare species

A wild female giant panda is restrained by farmers worried that she would be hurt by hunting dogs after she burst into a village in Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture, Sichuan province, in early April. The panda had been released from captivity.Ake Jiushe / For China Daily

National parks to protect rare species

National parks to protect rare species

(China Daily 04/29/2016 page5)