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New plan drafted to save the panda.

New plan drafted to save the panda

Despite extensive efforts to protect thegiant panda, over the past 10 years its population in China appears to have been more than decimated, according to a study conducted by the Chinese Ministry of Forestry and the Swiss-based World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International. The decline results from sustained human encroachment on the animal's habitat. To counter this threat, WWF consultant John McKinnon and Qiu Minjiang, a Chinese environment official, have drafted a management strategy calling for an immediate strengthening of measures by the Chinese government to protect that habitat. WWF expects the joint plan, currently under study by the Chinese government, to win the government's formal approval within a few months.

It calls not only for greater enforcementof regulations in China's existing 12 panda reserves, but also for establishing a new class of forests called "panda management ranges.' As at the reserves, the plan would prohibit hunting, grazing, human settlement, agriculture and burning in the ranges. Logged areas would be reforested with indigenous species and bamboo. On panda habitats outside ranges and reserves, the strategy recommends halting all new human settlement, maintaining forest cover and strictly enforcing panda protection laws.

Another key recommendation is thereestablishment and protection of panda migration corridors to link small, nowisolated subpopulations. Satellite photos indicate that most pandas--shy, solitary inhabitants of China's mountainous bamboo forests--live in groups of fewer than 50, many in groups of as few as 10. Once a group falls to 20 pandas, its members "can be expected to become extinct within a few generations,' WWF says.

England's Prince Philip, president ofWWF International, announced the strategy last week at the press conference launching a fund-raising campaign to help finance China's efforts to save the remaining 800 to 1,000 wild pandas. Said Prince Philip, "Without this joint effort by the Chinese and WWF we would be condemning the panda to extinction as surely as if we were to go out and deliberately exterminate them.'
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Title Annotation:World Wildlife Fund project
Author:Raloff, Janet
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 14, 1987
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