From "difficult to meet" to "frequent encounters" -

China has taken many measures to improve the level of
giant panda population protection

On November 11, the National Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas was inaugurated in Chengdu, Sichuan. The center integrates the resources of two scientific research institutions, the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda and the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, and gathers outstanding teams of giant panda scientific research across the country, making it a world-class platform for cooperation and exchange in giant panda scientific research. According to the relevant person in charge of the State Forestry and Grassland Administration, the center has established an academic committee for giant panda conservation research led by Academician Wei Fuwen and a national innovation alliance for giant panda conservation, and will also build a key laboratory of giant pandas of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, and vigorously promote the establishment of a national key laboratory for the protection of endangered animals such as giant pandas.

Since 1963, when the construction of the first batch of protected areas such as the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province was launched, China's giant panda conservation model and experience have become successful cases in the field of global biodiversity conservation.

National Parks: Frequent encounters with giant pandas

From the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, it extends north along the Hengduan Mountains to the Qinling Mountains. Over the years, 67 giant panda sanctuaries have been established in the area. The Giant Panda National Park, officially established in 2021, has built a more complete, continuous and expansive home for the giant panda and its umbrella species. At present, there are 1340,71 wild giant pandas here, accounting for 89.<>% of the total wild giant panda population in China.

Yang Wengang and Zeng Yongbing, members of the monitoring team of the Wolong area of the Giant Panda National Park, witnessed three wild giant pandas in one day when they carried out field surveys in Niutou Mountain.

From "difficult to meet" to "frequent encounters", the results of conservation are evident behind this. "The identification of giant panda DNA individuals in some regions shows that the number of individuals in all regions has increased, and the range of wild giant pandas is also expanding, which is also an important reason for the increase in the rate of encounter." The relevant person in charge of the Giant Panda National Park Administration said.

Artificial captivity: cracking the breeding trilemma

As early as 1953, China began to carry out artificial breeding of giant pandas in zoos. However, the problems of captive giant pandas such as difficulty in estrus, breeding and conception, and survival of young pandas have not been solved for a long time. It was not until 1995 that the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda cracked the trilemma code for giant pandas in captivity, and the artificial breeding technology of giant pandas was able to make great progress.

"Captive giant pandas provide a guarantee for China to carry out a series of extended scientific research on giant pandas, in addition to the function of preserving the provenance, but also provide a solid foundation for international exchanges and cooperation, rewilding and reintroduction." Wei Rongping, a breeding expert at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, introduced.

With the construction of artificial breeding, feeding management and disease prevention and control systems for giant pandas, China's captive giant pandas have grown from the initial 10 to more than 670 at present, basically realizing the self-sustaining and sustainable development of the population, and providing Chinese experience for reference in the artificial breeding of wild animals in the world.

At present, China has built a captive giant panda population breeding and development system with China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, and Qinling Giant Panda Research Center as the main body, and with the help of molecular genetics technology and international advanced pedigree management concepts, the breeding plan is reasonably arranged, and the gene exchange between population units is promoted, and the focus of population development has changed from simple quantitative growth to improving genetic quality.

Rewilding: Helping wild populations recover

In 2003, the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda took the lead in launching training and rewilding captive giant pandas on a global scale. In 2010, with the steady growth of the captive giant panda population, the rewilding of giant pandas ushered in the best time to restart. At the same time, a major breakthrough has been made in the rewilding training method of "mother beasts with cubs", and Wolong Waltaoping has become the first rewilding training base in China. "Let the mother beast with field experience give birth in the training circle set up in the natural environment, and then let the released individuals grow up with the mother and learn survival skills in the wild, so as to reduce human intervention and influence in the whole process and maintain the wild nature of the cubs." Wu Daifu, executive director of the rewilding project of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, said.

In October 2012, the world's first baby panda born in the Wolong Wilding Training Ground, the male giant panda "Taotao", was released to Liziping, Shimian County, Sichuan Province, where the population density is extremely low, and ran to the wild to survive alone. "Taotao" became the first captive giant panda to survive through the "mother beast with cubs" method.

Considering that female giant pandas are a potential breeding resource and are more easily accepted by wild populations, the subsequent releases are dominated by females. Since then, with the development of the project, the key technical system for the rewilding and reintroduction of giant pandas has gradually taken shape, and the reintroduction work has been expanded from the Xiaoxiangling mountain system where Liziping is located to the Minshan mountain system. In the past 20 years, China has established a complete technical system for giant panda rewilding training and reintroduction monitoring.

According to reports, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, the Sichuan Provincial Forestry and Grassland Bureau, and the Chengdu Municipal Government jointly funded the first phase of 1 million yuan to set up a giant panda conservation research fund, and launched two major joint research projects: research on key technologies for the protection of wild giant panda populations and habitats in national parks, and research on key technologies for the conservation of genetic diversity of captive giant panda populations. In the future, we will further standardize the breeding of giant panda captive populations and the management of genetic resources, improve the conditions and technical capabilities for artificial breeding of giant pandas, expand the scale of high-quality populations in a scientific and orderly manner, and promote the high-quality and sustainable development of captive giant panda populations.

(Reporter Zou Xiaojing, Zhang Lei, correspondent Long Tingting)