Photos offer rare glimpse into panda habitat
The images and footage, rarely seen before, showcase an array of endangered species in their remote habitats in southwestern Sichuan Province, including giant panda, red panda, Tibetan stump-tailed macaque and leopard cat.
“The multimedia materials are obtained under circumstances, where there was little external disturbance and therefore they truly reflect the conditions of those species in the wild,” said Jiang Zeyin, species programme officer at WWF-China.
The materials were filmed since 2011 by more than 100 infra-red camera traps set up in six nature reserves by WWF and its partners from the local forestry authority as part of the monitoring effort under the giant panda conservation programme.
With the footage, WWF conservation officers have gained a better understanding of the identification of animal traces and areas of their activities, the study of the impact of human activities on the species and management of nature reserves, according to Jiang.
“The images demonstrate that through the conservation of the giant panda, a flagship umbrella species, we can also protect other threatened wildlife from the same habitat and preserve biological diversity,” said Fan Zhiyong, director of WWF species programme in China. It is a tried method in WWF’s biodiversity conservation and the reason why WWF would underscore the value of protecting flagship species, he said.
China has more than 6,500 species of vertebrates representing 14 percent of the global total, making it one of the 12 globally recognized “mega-biodiversity” countries.
However, the population of more than 10 flagship and keystone species in China, which include Amur tigers, musk deer and the Yangtze finless porpoise, have undergone a marked decline that was particularly severe between the 1960s and 1980s.
“The overall biodiversity in China is in decline despite partial improvement in some places. The main threat has been the habitat loss and fragmentation due to invasive human activities,” said Fan.
“Conservation of flagship species would not only benefit the ecological system, but also human development. Large-scale planning and implementation aimed at establishing a network of habitats should always be considered,” said Fan.