YA'AN: The government of this city has closed down more than 10 polluting
enterprises and asked 180 others to upgrade their facilities to help protect the
habitat of China's giant pandas.
Wild pandas in Ya'an, in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, account for
about a quarter of Sichuan's panda population and around 20 percent of the
"The goal is to improve the environment to protect the giant panda's
habitat," said Yun Kang, an information officer with the municipal government.
Ya'an, which sits in the western part of the Sichuan Basin, came to the
world's attention when French naturalist and missionary Armand David became the
first foreigner to spot a panda in Baoxing County in 1869.
With an area of 5,000 square kilometers, Sichuan's giant panda habitat is
located between the Dadu and Minjiang rivers and covers the cities of Ya'an and
Chengdu as well as the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture and Ganzi
Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Fifty-two percent of the habitat is in Ya'an.
Ya'an has intensified its efforts to protect its section of Sichuan's giant
panda habitat ever since the habitat was included on the List of the World
Natural Heritage last July, Yun told China Daily.
Baoxing's economy is driven by the building materials industry. Although its
factories are separate from the giant panda habitat, the county has closed down
three polluting factories.
"Since Sichuan prepared for the inclusion of the giant panda's habitat on the
World Natural Heritage List in 2000, Baoxing has closed down some 30 polluting
enterprises and enterprises that could cause pollution," said Li Lu, an official
at the Ya'an Municipal Urban Construction Bureau.
He said Ya'an had also banned hunting in the giant panda's habitat and
relocated people who were living in it.
"Thanks to these efforts, it is not unusual for wild pandas to approach
farmhouses and forest farms. Instead of hurting them, people observe whether
they are ill or hungry and see if they can help," said Li Guilin, a farmer in
Baoxing's Yanjing Township.
One night in January, a wild panda entered a farmer's pigsty in Baoxing and
slept with the pigs for a night. It did not leave until 10 am the next day.
"The farmer did not disturb it and placed porridge near it," Li said.
(China Daily 03/27/2007 page5)