China’s active engagement in giant panda conservation work in recent years

1. Increase breeding rates through artificial insemination
In 1980, there were only 8 giant pandas in the Sichuan Wolong Nature Reserve. Due to the degradation of their reproductive system, merely 7 to 8 out of every 100 giant pandas are capable of reproducing. Even if breeding does occur, only 30% to 40% of the female giant pandas successfully conceive, and the survival rate of cubs does not reach 40%. Thus, China decided to establish the China Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Pandas in Wolong to specifically research the issue of giant panda breeding.

Breeding specialists discovered through research that common male giant pandas had no desire to mate with female giant pandas. Therefore, artificial insemination was chosen as the method to produce offspring for the giant pandas. Specialists would first obtain the sperm of a mature and healthy male giant panda and freeze it. The sperm would then be injected into the female giant panda vagina through a needle tube. The gonadal hormones were then stimulated externally to increase the chances of impregnating the female giant panda.
Through years of research, experts in Wolong have created a ‘Giant panda sperm bank’, and solved the problematic issue of breeding. Through a series of studies on issues such as ‘in vitro gonadotropin for giant pandas’, the pregnancy rate of female giant pandas of child-bearing age has increased. In order to restore and stimulate gradually the reproduction rate of giant pandas, giant pandas are taught to mate when they reach four years of age (adolescents). Specialists tried to stimulate their desire to mate, as well as the development of their reproductive organs by displaying videos of giant pandas mating.
Most female giant pandas, which gave birth to their first cub panda through artificial fertilization, don’t know how to take care of them. Consequently, experts decided to rear them artificially. The cubs were returned back to their mothers only after being artificially reared for a period of time.
2. Reserves areas creation for pandas
The effective protection of regions and habitats where giant pandas are densely populated have yielded notable progress. The number of nature reserves has increased from 4 to 62, with a total area of 320 hectares of land, which allow 70% of wild giant pandas to be protected effectively. The population of wild giant pandas has increased to almost 1,600. Inside the reserve areas, there are patrol checks all year round. Sick and starving giant pandas will be rescued and any attempt to harm the giant pandas will be combated and any offenders prosecuted.
Meanwhile, the management of mountains and the waterways, vegetation restoring, prevention of natural disasters and reduction of human activities, which impact the natural habitat of the giant panda, have all resulted in a good ecological environment for the survival and breeding of giant pandas. Protected reserve areas, where giant pandas live, are all managed by wildlife management agencies. But giant pandas live outside these reserve areas and their habitats are also effectively protected.
3. Off-site preservation
As the natural habitat of a species is broken up and the population has dropped to around 1,000, a stable population should be considered to establish in an artificial breeding environment and later released into the wild to supplement the wildlife population. Since the artificial environment is located in a distance from the natural habitat, this mode is called the "off-site preservation" and is used to supplement on-site preservation. As the scientific research and management of giant pandas continue to improve, the artificially bred giant panda population has grown rapidly, reaching a total of 293 in 2009.
Last Update : 03/10/2018
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