Rare Giant Pandas Boost Numbers by Almost Half
BEIJING Endangered giant pandas have boosted their numbers in the wild by almost half in just a few years thanks to enlarged habitat and improved ecosystems, Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.
Chinese forestry officials said last year that pandas, notoriously fussy eaters and picky partners, were rebounding from the brink of extinction but that they were not yet out of the woods.
"The number of giant pandas is up 40 percent over the number recorded before 2000," Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Forestry Administration, was quoted as telling a meeting in Beijing on Wednesday.
Some 1,596 giant pandas now lived in the wild, Zhou said, many in the high, fog-shrouded mountains of southwestern Sichuan province.
"Their number has increased from 1,114 before 2000," he said.
Years ago, giant pandas only occupied about 1.4 million hectares (3.45 million acres), fragmented into isolated patches.
"Now their habitat covers 2.3 million hectares of areas dotted across in 45 southwestern counties and parts of the northwest provinces. Living space had been enlarged by 65 per cent," Zhou was quoted as saying.
He said other endangered species of wildlife had also multiplied -- including the Chinese alligator and crested ibis.