Pandas have become synonymous with wildlife conservation. Humans continued encroachment and development in their natural habitat has put the species in severe danger. Efforts by conservation projects in recent years has brought population numbers up and they are now classified as vulnerable. However, pandas are still at risk and further conservation work is needed if the species is to survive.
The elusive nature of these solitary bears makes it hard for researchers to accurately gauge their numbers. It is thought that there are 1,800 in the wild. Being endemic to a few mountain ranges in central China, most notably Sichuan province, small changes in the local environment can drastically effect their numbers.
China is home to the world’s largest population of humans. Space is at a premium and this has resulted in humans inadvertently removing pandas from their natural homes. This is not the only reason behind the pandas’ struggle. Breeding season for pandas falls within just a few days in a year and mothers produce just one or two offspring. Pandas are also sadly caught in traps intended for other animals.
99% of the panda’s diet is bamboo
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The Great Project’s panda project is located in the Bifengxia mountain range and along with panda conservation, the long-term aim is to educate people on the pandas’ plight. Volunteers play a vital role in the survival of the 40 resident pandas and the future of the species.
Volunteers are expected to take part in many of the daily activities and tasks including:
The resident bears live in two large enclosures with both indoor and outdoor spaces. Volunteers are expected to help in daily efforts to keep the enclosures clean and habitable for the pandas. Cleaning is a full-time job to ensure the pandas’ quality of life.
In the wild and with no natural predators, pandas graze all day on bamboo, their favourite food. Pandas can consume other foods, so it’s a mystery as to why they eat this hard, indigestible plant. At the centre, the pandas eat four times a day. Volunteers will help to prepare their food of bamboo and apples and feed it to them through their enclosures. This up-close interaction with the bears is often the volunteers’ favourite job.
Volunteers are often asked to help conduct research into the pandas’ behaviour. Building up knowledge and data about the giant pandas is key to ensuring the population’s survival in the wild. Volunteers will also look at the medical health of the bears.
Exploring the centre
Volunteers have unlimited access to all parts of the sanctuary. During free time, volunteers are encouraged to explore the centre. Visit the nursery to see the young pandas abandoned by their mothers, the rescue centre and the educational facilities. Volunteers can spend as much time as they wish with the bears.
There is more than just panda duties. Volunteers are encouraged to learn about Chinese culture. Learn Mandarin, take calligraphy lessons, play the ancient Chinese game of Mahjong, and take part in dumpling making. Volunteers can also explore the beautiful mountainous region and the bustling city of Chengdu, the capital of the region.
Proudly sponsored by The Great Projects.