Panda bite is a mark of honor

Updated: 2012-09-24 16:24
By Huang Zhiling in Dujiangyan, Sichuan ( China Daily)

Liu Yunkang has been bitten several times by dogs, but he never expected to be bitten by a panda.

"I am fortunate to have been bitten by China's national treasure that people from around the worldcome a long way to see," joked the 59-year-old farmer from Nanyue village in Dujiangyan,


At noon on Friday, a wild panda came down from the mountain to the village at around 1,200 metersabove sea level on the banks of the Longxi River.

"It walked about 100 and 200 meters before crossing the river to reach the mountain slope on theother side," said Yang Guoxiang, a 65-year-old villager who was the first to spot the panda.

Planting potatoes in her fields, Yang called her husband Wu Tianfu who happened to see Liu Yunkangriding a motorbike nearby.

Because the panda was very dirty and walked very slowly, Wu and Liu thought it might have been sickand decided to drive it back down the mountainside so that villagers could help it.

"Staff members of the Longxi-Hongkou National Nature Preserve have told villagers time and again toreport sick and injured pandas," Wu told China Daily on Sunday.

The pursued panda became nervous and turned round and bit Liu's left leg when the farmer got tooclose and touched its head. It then disappeared into the forest.

"A checkup in a local clinic showed the bite wound was made by two teeth and it wasn't serious. And Iused to think pandas were docile," Liu said.

But Zhao Zhilong, bureau chief of the Longxi-Hongkou preserve, said that pandas are very powerfulwhen they attack.

"They can kill a sheep with their bite. In Liu Yunkang's case, the panda was very tender," he said.

Judging by the bite, Zhao thought the panda was an adolescent driven away by its mother to live on itsown.

"Pandas live in the mountains 1,600 meters above sea level. This panda might have come to the low-lying areas where people live due to inexperience. It did not come down to look for food because thereare many kinds of bamboo at high altitude," Zhao said.

Although the Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008 wrought havoc in Dujiangyan, it had little effecton pandas in the Longxi-Hongkou preserve.

From 2009 to 2011, infrared cameras installed in the reserve took 15 images of wild pandas.

"Judging by the DNA of panda droppings, we think there must be between six and eight wild pandas inthe preserve," Zhao said.

Although he thought the panda was healthy because it fled quickly, Zhao sent two staff members ofthe reserve to search nearby forests in case it was sick or injured.

(China Daily 03/19/2012 page5)

Panda Facts
  • Panda facts I

    In China, most giant pandas live in the mountains of Qinling, Minshan, Qionglai, Daxiangling and Xiaoxiangling.

  • Panda facts II

    By the end of 2011, the number of wild giant pandas in the world was about 1,590.

Pandas Abroad