Wolong Nature Reserve
Wolong Nature Reserve is located approximately 120km (74 miles) northwest of Chengdu and includes the Giant Panda Research Center. The nature reserve covers an area of over 2,000 sq km and is a refuge for other rare and endangered species including the snow leopard, golden monkey, golden langur, musk deer and red panda. The UN has declared Wolong an international biosphere preserve and in addition to the wealth of fauna, 4,000 different types of plants are believed to grow here.
Sadly, the giant panda population is severely threatened and their numbers in the wild are estimated to have dropped below 1,000. Once these deceptively cuddly looking 200kg animals roamed the hills of all of China’s southern provinces but now their territory is extremely limited. Poaching is still a problem, but more significantly the advance of man into the hills and deforestation has restricted the pandas’ territory. Pandas only eat a certain type of bamboo from a specific altitude and are notoriously unenthusiastic about breeding. The Giant Panda Research Center in Wolong Nature Reserve studies pandas with the aim of improving the panda birth rate and also breeds pandas which are later re-introduced to the wild.