Sichuan pandas face tough winter

More sick and hungry giant pandas than in previous winters are expected to seek food at lower altitudes in China's earthquake-affected Sichuan province, Reuters reported, citing the Xinhua news agency. This is likely to strain facilities at the local panda research centre, which will need to provide them with food and medical care.

Landslides caused by the Sichuan earthquake on May 12 have destroyed some of the wild pandas’ habitat. The destruction has reduced the supplies of their source of food — bamboo — in the altitude range of 2,500 metres to 3,200 metres where they normally live.

"They came down the mountains so early this year and that’s why we predict there will be a worse situation for the wild pandas this winter," said Zhang Guiquan, assistant director of the Wolong Nature Reserve Administration.
Four or five wild pandas seeking food or showing signs of illness are usually found at lower levels in normal winter periods from December to March. But, Zhang said, two already had been found by local residents in late October.
The China Conservation and Research Centre at the Wolong reserve already has taken 53 pandas that had been living in the reserve, the largest for pandas in China. One panda died and another went missing after the earthquake.

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