Animal, plant diversity flourishes in Giant Panda National Park, NW China's Shaanxi

(People's Daily Online) 10:53, August 09, 2023

Recently, northwest China's Shaanxi Province announced a significant decision to enhance the coordinated protection and management of the Giant Panda National Park.

Qingmuchuan National Nature Reserve, situated in Ningqiang county's Qingmuchuan town, Shaanxi, is part of the Giant Panda National Park.

On July 28, Li Jianhong, director of Qingmuchuan National Nature Reserve's management bureau, revealed that the fourth Shaanxi panda census discovered panda feces at two sites, although no footage of the giant pandas was recorded.

Photo shows a giant panda walking in northwest China's Shaanxi Province. (Shaanxi Daily/Xiao Qian)

"Patrolling the forest is hard work, especially during the cold winters," said Li Jianjun, head of the Giant Panda National Park patrol team in Shaanxi.

Rangers patrolling core protection areas must carry between 20 and 25 kilograms of equipment, including tents, sleeping bags, utensils and more.

They trek along mountain paths at elevations over 1,600 meters to perform various duties like identifying human activities, tracking animal traces, changing memory cards for forest cameras, and mitigating fire risks.

A typical patrol spans four days, during which rangers walk 60 kilometers and traverse 12 rivers.

On the morning of July 29, the rangers began a patrol on a rugged trail just 30 centimeters wide. "Local villagers used to walk on the path. Compared with other paths, this one is comparatively smooth," said Wei Shuqiang, a ranger.

In May 2023, a joint patrol was conducted by northwest China's provinces of Gansu and Shaanxi, along with southwest China's Sichuan Province. The rangers entered the core protection area through this path, Wei noted.

During their patrols, the rangers have found traces of rare wild animals such as takins, golden snub-nosed monkeys, and tufted deer, as well as many rare orchid species.

Forest rangers patrol a mountain in the Giant Panda National Park in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, July 29, 2023. (Shaanxi Daily/Xiao Qian)

"There are four patrol routes in the Shaanxi section of the Giant Panda National Park. Rangers patrol general control areas daily and enter the core protection area twice a month. They are very familiar with the park," said Li Jianjun.

After the Giant Panda National Park's establishment in 2021, Shaanxi initiated comprehensive construction of the park in collaboration with neighboring Sichuan and Gansu provinces. This partnership has cultivated a strong synergy for the high-quality construction of the Giant Panda National Park.

Over the past two years, the Qingmuchuan management bureau has implemented several measures, including designating a new 1,000-square-meter monitoring and early warning area, installing 60 infrared-triggered cameras, introducing handheld mobile terminals, and building meteorological and environmental monitoring systems.

Thanks to the strong protection measures taken by all sides, the Shaanxi section of the Giant Panda National Park has continuously improved its functions and enriched biodiversity.

"In recent years, the distribution area and the wild animal population have expanded. In the past, wild animals were mainly found in places at an elevation of above 1,700 meters, and nowadays, they can be seen in places located at an altitude of 800 meters. Monitoring data shows that more than 50 takins are currently living in the Shaanxi section of the Giant Panda National Park, more than doubling since 2010," said Miao Tao, deputy director of the Qingmuchuan management bureau.

Since 2020, the Shaanxi section of the Giant Panda National Park has conducted special surveys covering animal diversity, plant diversity, the geographical environment, local economic development, and potential threats.

The findings reveal that the Shaanxi section of the Giant Panda National Park is home to 342 wild vertebrate species, including 51 under key state protection in China and 26 endemic to China, as well as 2,065 species of higher plants, including 41 under key state protection and 574 endemic to China.

(Web editor: Chang Sha, Du Mingming)


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