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|Monday, August 20, 2001, updated at 08:13(GMT+8)|
Bamboo Blossom Won't Cause Panda Extinction: ExpertWidespread blossoming of "arrow bamboo," a form of the plant that takes decades to regenerate, is not likely to result in the extinction of giant pandas, according to Zhang Hemin, an expert in panda research.
"The blossom of arrow bamboo could bring about periodic food shortages for giant pandas, but degeneration or extinction of the population because of this is not likely to happen," Zhang said.
Two destructive flowerings of arrow bamboo over large areas in 1974 and 1983 left 250 pandas dead and threatened the survival of the remaining ones because the regrowth was too slow to be of use to the existing pandas. People fear that a new growth cycle of the bamboo may trigger another disaster.
"We don't want to see history repeat itself, but the periodic blooming of bamboo is only a law of nature," Zhang said.
Through research, Zhang found out that the blooming period of the arrow bamboo is around 60 to 80 years. Each time bamboo blooms, it will take 10 to 30 years for new bamboo saplings to grow into bamboo bushes. During that period, giant pandas' lives are at stake for lack of food.
In the history of the giant panda, which can be traced back some 3 million years, bamboo regeneration must have occurred over 50,000 times. But the giant pandas still live on, Zhang said.
"Therefore, it is unnecessary to concentrate on the calculation of the exact date of bamboo blossoming. It is more important to create new habitats where giant pandas can relocate to during hard times," Zhang noted.
The Chinese government launched a nationwide project in 1992 to protect giant pandas and their habitats. Related departments are cooperating with international organizations in this regard to enhance such efforts.
Currently, China has about 1,000 giant pandas in the wild, most of them living on the mountains around the Sichuan Basin, in southwest China. The nature reserves for giant pandas in the country have increased from 13 to 27 this year.
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