China protects the pandas (photo) that are living in an earthquake-hit part of the southwestern part of the country.
Because of the continuing threat of landslides and other hazards, the pandas have been evacuated to temporary shelters, said Tuesday a forestry bureau report.
Sichuan province quake, on May 12, caused severe damage in the Wolong Nature Reserve. The report said that pandas, from its Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center, will have to stay elsewhere until the center is rebuilt.
June signals the beginning of the area’s annual rainy season. Rivers, routinely overflow their banks, and landslides are a particular concern as the quake caused steep hillsides to shear away and crash into valleys below. Many of the slopes remain unstable and at risk of being washed away by rainstorms.
The report said that pandas will be evacuated by the Sichuan Forestry Department’s panda protection office. The animals will be moved to nearby areas.
On Tuesday, six pandas were sent from the center to a 75 miles away reserve, near Ya’an city. Last week, another 13 were sent to the same reserve.
And an additional 19 pandas have been sent in Chengdu, Sichuan’s capital, to a breeding research center. Others have been sent to the eastern province of Fujian and the southern province of Guangdong.
Even though officials at Wolong have said they want to find a new home for the reserve, they can’t do so until geologists have completely assessed the damage. Therefore it is unclear if all pandas will eventually be relocated.
The quake also damaged 48 other reserves that were created in the province in order to protect the pandas as well as other endangered species.
How many wild pandas died in the quake was not known.
China is the world’s only country in which the endangered pandas are found in the wild, and in the country, the animal is revered as an unofficial national symbol.
Only about 1 600 pandas live in the wild on steep, bamboo-covered mountains, mostly in Sichuan and Shaanxi, the neighboring province. Another 180 have been bred in captivity.