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Determined protection efforts mean stable growth of endangered wild species

(Chinadaily.com.cn)    09:37, January 06, 2021

Some endangered wild species in China have seen stable population growth in the past five years thanks to the country's determined protection efforts, the nation's forestry authority revealed on Monday.

Between 2016 and 2020, China established an abundance of natural reserves, covering 18 percent of its total territorial land. Those reserves have protected 90 percent of the country's plants and 85 percent of wild animals, according to the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

"Those nature reserves played a supportive role in the country's wildlife protection work and also better encouraged endangered wildlife under captive-breeding back to the wild," said Zhang Zhizhong, head of the administration's Wildlife Protection Department.

Zhang said by the end of last year, the number of giant pandas hit 1,864 after decades of steadfast conservation efforts on habitat protection.

Other endangered wild animals also witnessed the same increasing population trend.

For example, the crested ibis, an endangered bird known as "the oriental gem", once thought to be extinct due to human activities, such as urbanization and pollution, has witnessed stable population growth, rebounding to more than 4,000.

In 1981, Yangxian county in Northwest China's Shaanxi province reported seven wild crested ibises, the only wild population in the world at the time.

To protect the species, commercial logging has been banned in several areas in Shaanxi province since 1999. Moreover, an environmental protection regulation dedicated to the area was released in 2007.

The Asian elephant, the largest land mammal in Asia and also China's first-class protected wild animal, was in the same situation but saw stable population growth to 300 last year.

Southwest China's Yunnan province, habitat of the Asian elephant, has established 11 national or regional level nature reserves in the tropics since 1958. Those reserves cover an area of about 510,000 hectares and have provided shelter for the species.

"Development of artificial breeding technology also is a key part of the stable population growth of some endangered species," Zhang said.

In past decades, a total of 633 giant pandas were born through artificial breeding. Of these, 258 were born in the last five years, according to the administration.

In addition, several wild animals once extinct in the wild, such as milu deer and the wild horse, now have developed their own wild groups thanks to artificial breeding.

Apart from animals, Zhang said similar efforts have been made to save the country's endangered wild plants and encouraging results have been achieved. These include examples such as the cycas revoluta (also known as sago palm) and the Manglietia sinica, the most threatened species of plant that is endemic to China.

The 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), which was recently released, attaches great importance to the protection of natural resources and the environment, indicating the nation's commitment to sustainable development.

"In the past five years, we've spared no efforts to perfect the country's wildlife protection regulation and management rules and hold a strong attitude to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade," Zhang said. "All those efforts will be further strengthened in the future."

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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