Giant panda will have its own nature reserve the size of a (small) country

There are many endemic species in China, one of the most famous of which, the giant panda, enjoys all the honors. A social media phenomenon, the bicolor ursid has been favored by the public and over the years has become the unofficial mascot of the Celestial Empire. This week China announces creating a pharaoh-sized sanctuary for the giant panda.

In September 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature updated its red list of endangered species and moved the giant panda Ailuropoda melanoleuca to the vulnerable category, while it was in the “endangered” category. This decision follows an increase in the number of individuals recorded during a national survey conducted between 2011 and 2014. Today, the species has almost 300 more individuals than 10 years ago, i.e. 1864 giant pandas in the wild. Challenge: The animals are divided into 33 isolated subpopulations and scattered across nearly 200 villages. In practice, since these animals do not like the presence of their fellows, this is not a problem … except, of course, during the breeding season, when you have to cross roads and villages to get to another giant panda. .

Just to solve this problem China has just announced the creation of a 27,134 km² nature reserve.. For comparison, Belgium has an area of ​​30,528 km². This gigantic sanctuary would in fact comprise 67 smaller parks that would also house 8000 other endangered animal and plant species and will connect the three provinces. Only here, in the midst of these 27,134 km², do Men live; about 170,000 who the government simply planned to force out.

Why might this giant corridor be a good idea?

Pandas have a very complex reproductive cycle. The female is fertile only two or three days a year, and during this period of time, if a male relative is not at a decent distance, it will not be the female who will look for him! Fragmentation of personality therefore, it is an obvious obstacle to the birth of young animals.

New positive:One of the biggest threats to the giant panda is habitat destruction.. Ailuropoda melanoleuca lives at an altitude of 1500 to 3000 meters above sea level in mountain forests very rich in bamboo. Territories now conquered by men and cleared for farmland or pasture. Thus, the creation of this reserve will allow protect the giant panda’s habitat and at the same time thousands of other species.

Sichuan forest

Bamboo forest in Sichuan province, where most of the giant pandas live.

Finally, another problem arises from the fragmentation of species: inbreeding. This protected corridor between different subpopulations will allow more genetic mixing and thus possibly genetically save the species once and for all.

What are the reasons to remain skeptical?

Of course, there are no more or less important endangered species, each of which has its own place in the biodiversity chain, and it should also be remembered that the creation of such a large protected area will benefit many species, except for the giant panda. However, some may be surprised allocation of resources in favor of the giant panda. A symbol of China, a magnificent view adored by the public, it is not enough to make us forget tiger and bear farms, pangolin poaching or the unofficial extinction of Chinese dolphins, there are so many species that also deserve such a device.

This announcement obviously remains strong in meaning and is a piece, rare enough to be noted, in an approach to protecting biodiversity, not humans. Obviously, there is more to be content with. We bet that this is the first step in favor of a global plan to protect the environment, and not the end point.

Cecile Arno

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