China's major giant panda habitat, home to about 1,400 of the wild bears, suffered great damage in the recent earthquake, said a State Forestry Administration (SFA) senior official.
The 8.0-magnitude earthquake that hit the southwestern Sichuan Province on May 12 damaged the major habitat of many wild animals, including the giant pandas. It influenced 28.5 million mu (about 1.9 million hectares), or 83 percent of the total area of the panda habitat in the country, said Yin Hong, SFA deputy director.
In total, 8.3 percent of the damaged habitat was completely destroyed. One panda died in the quake in Wolong nature reserve, and another was still missing, said Yin Hong.
"The dense forests covering these places are now turned into bare land," said Yan Xun, SFA chief engineer. "As the plantation disappeared, the living environment is completely destroyed."
"We have transferred 14 giant pandas to safe places outside the natural reserve, including the eight to be exhibited during the Olympics (in Beijing), and the two to be sent to Taiwan as a present," Yin said.
The detailed reconstruction and layout plan for the damaged habitat is currently under discussion, Yin said.
(Xinhua News Agency June 12, 2008)