China's major panda reserve resumes field inspection after quake

2008-06-25 11:33:31 GMT       2008-06-25 19:33:31 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

CHENGDU, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Staff at Wolong nature reserve, a major habitat of giant pandas in southwest China's Sichuan Province, have resumed field inspections to evaluate the living environment of the endangered species.

Despite frequent landslides and mudslides, a 26-strong team has struggled in the past five days to collect first-hand evidence of damage to the giant panda's habitats, said officials at Wolong National Natural Reserve.

The inspection had been suspended since the May 12 earthquake.

According to the team's report, the earthquake had triggered serious mountain landslides and damaged a huge area of forest. Panda caves collapsed. Bamboos were buried or destroyed and the water was polluted, posing direct threats to the life and health of pandas,

The reserve administration planned to set up another five teams to conduct inspections in a larger area including the stations of Dengshenggou and Mujiangping as well as towns of Wolong and Gengda.

Evidence will help disaster evaluation and the ecological reconstruction of the reserve, officials said.

The 200,000-ha reserve was established in 1963 in the southwest of Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the May earthquake. It houses more than 150 pandas living in the wild and 56 animal species and 24 endangered plants under national protection.

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