Make me your Homepage
left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Grin and bear it

Updated: 2013-05-09 14:27
(China Daily)

Grin and bear it

Pandas that will move to the new facility have had limited human interaction from birth, so they're better prepared to survive in the wild. PHOTOS BY HUO YAN / CHINA DAILY

While the 2008 quake killed multitudes of people in cities, it could help more rare pandas survive in the wild.

The 2008 earthquake destroyed Wolong National Nature Reserve, which housed the world's largest panda population. Yet an improved base is being developed 20 kilometers away in what authorities say might be the world's best panda habitat. "We're rebuilding and learning from mistakes made while constructing the first base to enable more pandas to be released," Li Desheng, deputy director of Wolong's administration bureau, says.

"This is a more advanced facility. It's a perfect ecosystem in terms of flora and altitude. There's no industry here, so there's no pollution. And there's more space for training and reintroduction."

The new reserve is being built to withstand a magnitude-7 quake and resist one at magnitude-8 — the strength of the Wenchuan quake, the epicenter of which bordered Wolong. The old site was constructed to outlast magnitude-6 tremors.

"You can't predict natural disasters. You might only get one every 1,000 years. But we're prepared," Li told China Daily about two weeks before a magnitude-7 quake struck nearby Ya'an, where more than 80 pandas have been relocated since 2008. None were injured at either site during the recent Ya'an earthquake.

The new base, set for completion in autumn, will have separate roads for tourists and staff, while another highly restricted road will lead to the reintroduction research area. It will host about 70 pandas, 50 of which will live in some form of an enclosure.

Li says the rebuilt reserve will also make it easier to improve biodiversity by ensuring more males — as opposed to just one or two with high libidos <00AD>— produce offspring. Cubs will live in what officials call the "panda kindergarten".

The biggest obstacle to rebuilding the base remains transport. The dirt road whittled into the mountainside is frequently clotted by landslides and washed out by floods, sometimes for months. Seatbelts are needed when traversing the bone-juddering route to keep passengers from being jostled around like dice in a cup.

Meanwhile, the road leading to Ya'an was destroyed by the temblor on April 20.

"It's long been hard to bring in construction materials and daily supplies," Li says. The new motorway, which will largely be bridges and tunnels, is expected to open around 2015. "It's too dangerous to rebuild the previous route."

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Hot Topics
China launched its second space laboratory, the Tiangong II, on Thursday night, which space officials said will become the country’s largest scientific platform in space.