Wolong National Nature Reserve

Wolong National Nature Reserve

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Wolong National Nature Reserve is a protected area
Protected area
Protected areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognised natural, ecological and/or cultural values. There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the enabling laws of each country or the regulations of the international...

 located in Wenchuan County
Wenchuan County
Wenchuan County is a county in Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, People's Republic of China.This county has an area of...

, Sichuan Province, People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

. Established in 1963, the reserve covers an area of about 200,000 hectares in the Qionglai Mountains
Qionglai Mountains
Qionglai Mountains is a mountain range in the Sichuan Province of China. It runs in the general north-south direction, and is located mostly within the Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, in the north-central part of the province....

 region. There are over 4,000 different species recorded in the reserve. Wolong National Nature Reserve houses more than 150 highly endangered giant panda
Giant Panda
The giant panda, or panda is a bear native to central-western and south western China. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the panda's diet is 99% bamboo...

s. The reserve is also a home to many other endangered species including: red pandas, golden monkey
Golden Snub-nosed Monkey
The golden snub-nosed monkey is an Old World monkey in the Colobinae subfamily. It is endemic to a small area in temperate, mountainous forests of central and Southwest China. The Chinese name is sichuan golden hair monkey . It is also widely referred to as the sichuan snub-nosed monkey...

s, white-lipped deer and many precious plants. Wolong gets up to 100,000 visitors every year.

Background


In June 1980, the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda was established at Wolong with the efforts of both World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Chinese government. To this date, researchers have conducted many breeding research projects on giant pandas and have successfully bred 66 panda cubs.

Location



A mountain stream runs through the Wolong Valley (where the Reserve is); the stream is heavily armoured with boulders and smaller rounded stones. Stream waters are rather alkaline with pH
PH
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

 levels in the range of 8.91. (Hogan, 2007) Water quality
Water quality
Water quality is the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of water. It is a measure of the condition of water relative to the requirements of one or more biotic species and or to any human need or purpose. It is most frequently used by reference to a set of standards against which...

 turbidity
Turbidity
Turbidity is the cloudiness or haziness of a fluid caused by individual particles that are generally invisible to the naked eye, similar to smoke in air. The measurement of turbidity is a key test of water quality....

 is quite high due to extensive sand and gravel
Gravel
Gravel is composed of unconsolidated rock fragments that have a general particle size range and include size classes from granule- to boulder-sized fragments. Gravel can be sub-categorized into granule and cobble...

 mining in stream.

According to a 2001 research by Dr. Jianguo Liu of Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Michigan State University is a public research university in East Lansing, Michigan, USA. Founded in 1855, it was the pioneer land-grant institution and served as a model for future land-grant colleges in the United States under the 1862 Morrill Act.MSU pioneered the studies of packaging,...

, the rate of destruction is higher after the reserve's creation than before its creation. Using NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

's satellite images and records of population, Liu's research team concluded that due to tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

 and the increase in local population, the reserve is facing an unprecedented threat. "Tourists don't think they have an impact on panda habitat, but indirectly each visitor has some impact," Liu said. "We don't see ourselves as a destructive force, but we are."

2008 Earthquake


The region, including the Panda Research Center, has been largely devastated on 12 May 2008 by a catastrophic earthquake
2008 Sichuan earthquake
The 2008 Sichuan earthquake or the Great Sichuan Earthquake was a deadly earthquake that measured at 8.0 Msand 7.9 Mw occurred at 14:28:01 CST...

, though the captive giant pandas were initially reported to be safe. Initially, officials were unable to contact the reserve. However, PRC’s Foreign Ministry later said that a group of 31 British tourists visiting the Wolong panda reserve in the quake-hit area returned safe and uninjured to the provincial capital. Nonetheless, the well-being of an even greater number of pandas in the neighbouring panda reserves initially remained unknown. Five security guards at the reserve were killed by the earthquake. Six pandas escaped after their enclosures were damaged. By May 20, two pandas at the reserve were found to be injured, while the search continued for another two adult pandas that went missing after the quake. By 28 May 2008, one panda was still missing. Nine-year-old Mao Mao, a mother of five at the breeding centre, was discovered on Monday, June 9, her body crushed by a wall in her enclosure. Panda keepers and other workers placed her remains in a small wooden crate and buried her outside the breeding centre.

For the time being the giant pandas have been relocated to the Bifengxia Panda Base
Bifengxia Panda Base
Bifengxia Panda Base is a giant panda breeding facility in Ya'an, Sichuan, China. Since opening in 2004, it has become home to several more giant pandas. This includes the U.S.-born Hua Mei and Mei Sheng, who were relocated there after the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake severely damaged the...

, which is also managed by the China Panda Protection and Research Center.

See also

  • Red Panda
    Red Panda
    The red panda , is a small arboreal mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. It is the only species of the genus Ailurus. Slightly larger than a domestic cat, it has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs...

  • Bifengxia Panda Base
    Bifengxia Panda Base
    Bifengxia Panda Base is a giant panda breeding facility in Ya'an, Sichuan, China. Since opening in 2004, it has become home to several more giant pandas. This includes the U.S.-born Hua Mei and Mei Sheng, who were relocated there after the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake severely damaged the...

  • Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries
    Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries
    The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries located in southwest Sichuan province of China, is the home to more than 30% of the world's highly endangered Giant Pandas and is among the most important sites for the captive breeding of these pandas. It covers 9245 km² with seven nature reserves and nine...

  • Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
    Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
    Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, or simply Chengdu Panda Base, is a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas and other rare animals. It is located in Chengdu, Sichuan, People's Republic of China....


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