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Giant Panda Habitat Expands in NW China

The habitat of giant panda, an endangered species native to China, has increased by more than 20,000 hectares since 1989 to reach some 80,000 hectares in northwestern Gansu province, sources said on Monday.

The finding was released in the outcome of a national survey on the habitat and number of giant pandas in August.

Judging from the location of dung, prints, habitats and other traces left by giant pandas, the living space for the creatures in Gansu's Baishui River Nature Reserve, was estimated to be over 80,000 hectares, as against 60,000 in 1989, said Zhang Kerong, director of the nature reserve administration.
The number was expected to have risen, said Zhang, who did not give specific figures.

There used to be about 100 giant pandas in the province, Zhang recalled.

Covering approximately 220,000 hectares, the state-level Baishui River Nature Reserve was founded in 1978 to protect giant pandas and forest resources. The nature reserve was cited as a member of the "man and the biosphere" network by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the year 2000.

Giant pandas are one of the most endangered species in the world. About 1,000 giant pandas are still around in the wild, mainly in the mountains in the Sichuan Basin in southwest China. And about 140 live in captivity.

(Xinhua News Agency December 29, 2003)

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