People and pandas - often conflicting needs

A long history

People have shared the environment with the panda for centuries and have relied on the area's natural resources for their livelihood. As the population has grown, many human activities have become unsustainable and significantly eroded the panda's habitat.
 / ©: naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF-Canon
© naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF-Canon
 
Millions of people live in and around the panda's habitat, many of them in the cities of Xi'an and Chengdu. As economic activity increases, more people will continue to move to the area adding more pressure to an already overburdened ecosystem.
Economic development
When logging in the panda's habitat was banned in 1998, new threats emerged, such as:
  • Mining,
  • hydropower development and
  • irresponsible tourism have increased
These activities, along with farming and road construction, have replaced commercial logging to remedy the revenue loss from the ban and became the major threats to forests and wildlife in the area.
Blasting for a dam near the Wanglang Nature Reserve, part of the panda habitat in Sichuan province, ... / ©: Philippe Semanaz
Blasting for a dam near the Wanglang Nature Reserve. Sichuan province, China. Dams developed for hydropower are threatenening some areas of the panda habitat.
© Philippe Semanaz
Ineffective reserves have led to...
Although there are a number of established reserves in the panda’s habitat range, in the past there had been little in the way of effective management and enforcement. As such, the ecological integrity of these areas has continued to decline as a result of illegal logging and poaching.
Illegally cut logs left to dry Wolong Nature Reserve, Sichuan province, China. / ©: © WWF-Canon / Stuart CHAPMAN
Illegally cut logs left to dry Wolong Nature Reserve, Sichuan province, China.
© © WWF-Canon / Stuart CHAPMAN
...illegal harvesting and...
In the Minshan Mountains, there are over 5,000 plant species and 75% are used in Chinese traditional medicine. The mountains are also home to over 300,000 people, many of whom live in poverty, and they rely on the harvesting of traditional medicines as an important source of income.  However, harvesting has disturbed the panda habitat and has led to the extinction of local plant species.
Medicinal plants' market. Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. / ©: (c) WWF-Canon / Michel GUNTHER
Medicinal plants' market. Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. The harvesting of plants for traditional Chinese medicines can disturb panda habitat and has caused the extinction of some local plant species in the Minshan Mountains.
© (c) WWF-Canon / Michel GUNTHER
...poaching
Some poaching of pandas still occurs, and even low levels of poaching can have grave consequences for such an endangered species. Poaching incurs a 10 year jail sentence and although it is rare for poachers to intentionally kill a panda, some are injured or killed in traps and snares set for other animals, such as musk deer and black bears.
Remains of poached animals in panda habitat. / ©: WWF China
The remains of animals poached from the Wanglang Nature Reserve, Sichuan province, China. Poaching sometimes inadvertantly kills and injures pandas.
© WWF China

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