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Chinese conservationists go wild to keep closer watch on pandas
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17:36, November 08, 2007

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Conservationists at a major panda habitat in China's southwest Sichuan province are establishing monitoring stations in the wild to keep a closer eye on the endangered animals.

Three monitoring stations are planned in Ya'an, a 5,300-square-kilometer area where French missionary and naturalist Pere Armand David saw a panda in 1869. This is the first time panda became known to the Western world.

"Settling in the wild allows us to immediately help the animals in emergency situations, such as when they are injured," said Li Lu, a Ya'an World Heritage Office official.

"Our aim is to monitor air quality, geological changes and ecological chains at the habitat, and to better conserve the pandas and other protected animals such as red pandas and snub-nosed langurs."

The project, which is part of a cooperation program with UNESCO, will improve the area's ability to position and better protect rare species.

About 50 conservation staff have received training and will settle in the stations by year end, Li added.

The Ya'an natural habitat, home to about 300 wild pandas, accounts for 52 percent of the bear's natural habitat area in Sichuan.

Giant pandas are one of the world's most endangered species. A total of 1,590 pandas are estimated to live in the wild, most in southwest China's mountains.

At the end of 2006, there were about 210 captive giant pandas in China.

Source: Xinhua

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