A new internationalinitiative celebrating China's Giant Panda conservation and research kicks-offwith focus on Sichuan on August 21 at Intercontinental Hotel in Sanlitun,Beijing
BEIJING, CHINA- MediaOutReach - August 21,2018 - China Giant Panda International Culture Week, a new biennialinternational celebration of China's 60 years of conservation efforts rescuingthe Giant Panda from the brink of extinction, launches today in Beijing with a'Panda China-Sichuan Night' at the Intercontinental Hotel in Sanlitun.
Giant Panda with her child, who is aged only 20 days
Giant Pandas Showing Up Together at the Shenshuping Base
Featuringa Giant Panda Culture Exhibition Area, the event hosted by Sichuan Provincecelebrates the preservation of the beloved icon of vulnerable species that hasbeen at play since establishment of Wolong National Nature Reserve in 1958.
Around200 guests included heads of related ministries and commissions, leaders fromthe People's Government of Sichuan Province, diplomatic envoys to China andinternational friends, officials from the cities, prefectures, and departmentsand bureaus of Sichuan Province, well-known giant panda experts, celebritiesfrom the culture sector and entrepreneurs.
Alight-up map indicated countries where China giant pandas were sent forinternational exchanges and cooperation.
Certificatesand souvenirs were also awarded to ambassadors for the global promotion ofGiant Panda culture.
Withits eco-environmental achievements in saving the species adopted as an"international business card" for tourism promotion, the event alsocelebrated Sichuan's folk customs, culture, art andfamously spicy cuisine at a banquet with artistic performances.
Supporting cultural programmes and initiativesinclude a 'Panda on the Road' interactive experience, 'Panda Diary' VR-ARevent, Sichuan Airlines Panda-themed flight, international conference andeducational exhibitions in Beijing's libraries, airports, subways, publictransportation, communities, universities and cultural centres.
The heartening story of saving the Giant Pandais also told through photos, film, TV, virtual reality, research exhibits,works of art and cultural and creative products at a 'Panda China-Sichuan ThemeExhibition' open to the public from August 23-26 at The China MillenniumMonument in Beijing.
Native to south-central China, Giant Pandaswere on the brink of extinction as a result of deforestation of their naturalhabitat of bamboo forest and poaching until conservation efforts began inSichuan.
Releasing a new progress report on theconservation campaign, Mr. Yang Chao, Director of the Protection Department ofChina's State Forestry and Grassland Administration, said habitat protectionhas since extended to 67 nature reserves through Sichuan and neighbouringShaanxi and Gansu -- compared to just 13 reserves in 1998.
According to latest estimates, the steadilygrowing wild population has reached 1,864 individuals.
Another 518 are in captivity worldwide --representing a "healthy, sustainable breeding population".
As the State Forestry Administration of Chinacontinues to reinforce conservation efforts for one of the worlds' most adoredand protected rare animals, the Giant Panda is one of the few species with itsnatural habitat designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Sichuan GiantPanda Sanctuaries covering seven natural reserves were inscribed onto the WorldHeritage List in 2006.
Mr. Yang Chao, Director of the ProtectionDepartment of China's State Forestry and Grassland Administration said 'PandaWeek' is in future scheduled on the environmental calendar as a biennialinternational celebration of China's 50 years of conservation efforts savingthe icon of vulnerable species.
Director Yang said the Giant Panda has alsobecome a beloved cultural envoy representing friendly Chinese foreign exchangesand global environmental cooperation.
Gifts of giant pandas to foreign zoos markedsome of the first cultural exchanges between China and the western world in the1970s -- known as "panda diplomacy".
Research and breeding has since extendedworldwide to 22 zoos in 17 countries including the United States, Japan,Austria, Thailand, Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia, Belgium,South Korea, the Netherlands, Indonesia, Finland, Germany, Canada, Spain andFrance.
Continuing this theme as a global ambassador,'Chinese Giant Panda International Cultural Week' extends a philosophy of"peace, development, cooperation and mutually beneficialrelationships" to the world.
Director Yang added: "After much hard work andeffort, conservation efforts have yielded significant results in multipleavenues. Saving the Giant Panda has served as a benchmark for respectingChina's natural environment."
In 2017, a newly-amended Law of the People'sRepublic of China on the Protection of Wildlife further strengthened protectionof endangered species such as the Giant Panda by reinforcing measures topreserve natural forests and build protective areas for wildlife and plants.
Giant Panda habitats are some of the mostbiologically diverse in the world, with panda conservation benefiting theentire eco-system of reserves, preserving more than 8,000 species of wildanimals and plants.
"To preserve the panda and its natural habitatis to reap all of the ecological, societal and economic benefits associatedwith it," Director Yang said.
The general public increasingly recognizes andrespects China's natural environment as a "true, invaluable nationaltreasure".
While strengthening protection and preservationof wild Giant Pandas, research centres including the Chengdu Research Base ofGiant Panda Breeding and Shanxi Louguantai Giant Panda Rescue Center continueadvancing scientific research into breeding in captivity.
As well as loss of habitat, the Giant Panda'ssurvival has been additionally hindered by a curious lack of libido, briefbreeding season, low fertility and poor survival rate of cubs.
China has so far bred 63 Giant Panda cubsthrough artificial insemination, with 58 surviving. "By the end of 2017, thecaptive Giant Panda population reached 518, achieving basic self-sustainment,"he said
As a result of conservation success, theInternational Union for Conservation of Nature reclassified the species in 2016from endangered -- meaning threatened with extinction -- to'conservational-reliant vulnerable', indicating positive population recoverywith conservation support.
China is also now embarking on creating a GiantPanda National Park three times the size of Yellowstone National Park in the USprotecting 70% of its habitat and 86% of the wild population.
The future of the Giant Panda now seems safelyassured, albeit with continued conservation help.
'China Giant Panda International Culture Week'is formally launched at the China Millennium Monument in Beijing on August 23,joined by United Nations officials including Mr. Tu Ruihe, China'srepresentative on the United Nations Environment Programme, foreign envoys andrepresentatives of the World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) which has adopted thepanda as its symbol, and experts and scholars in panda conservation research.
About the Giant Panda
Nativeto south-central China, theGiant Panda was on the brink of extinction from deforestation of its naturalhabitat of bamboo forest and poaching until conservation efforts formally beganin 1958 with the establishment of Wolong National Nature Reservein Sichuan.
Habitatprotection has since extended to 67 nature reserves through Sichuan andneighbouring Shaanxi and Gansu --compared to just 13 reserves in 1998.
Wildpopulation estimates vary, with latest estimates of steady growth reaching 1,864individuals along with 518 incaptivity worldwide -- representing a healthy, sustainable breeding population.
As a result ofconservation success, the species has been reclassified since 2016 fromendangered to 'conservational-reliant vulnerable' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Asthe StateForestry Administration of China continues toreinforce conservation efforts for one of the world's most adored and protectedrare animals, the Giant Panda is one of the few species with its naturalhabitat designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuariescovering seven natural reserves were inscribed onto the World Heritage List in2006.
Chinais now embarking on creating a Giant Panda National Park protecting 70% of itshabitat and 86% of the wild population by amalgamating and extending reservesin Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu.
The park will cover 27,134 squarekilometres, three times the area of Yellowstone National Park in the US.
By spanningthree provinces, it aims to encourage migration of the species to strengthenits gene pool.
As most ofthe area is mountainous where residents are poor, it will also enable localgovernments to alleviate poverty.
A fund of atleast 10 billion yuan (US$1.57 billion) will finance a variety of povertyalleviation projects from 2018 to 2023. The programme includesfinancial assistance, charity foundation, disaster relief, community education,tourism development and ecological construction.
Qumu Shiha, head of a national park working group, called the initiative a "bigstep to building a moderately well-off society" in the region.
"It will help mobilise the efforts of the whole society into protecting giantpandas, promoting harmony between nature and humans, and exploring a new modelto combining environmental protection, financing, poverty reduction and charitycare."
He describedthe vision as a "model for ecological development and social developmentglobally."