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Latest Field News 25/02/2014

Giant pandas caught on camera

We regularly share footage from camera traps with you, and often our fundraising activity allows us to fund the purchase of more much-needed camera traps and other recording equipment.

We’re delighted when we are able to see some of the images from these.

A video camera bought with funds provided by Act for Wildlife has recorded images of a Giant Panda crossing the main valley and dispersing up to the Heizhugou Nature Reserve, Sichuan Province, China.

 

Simon Dowell, Trustee of the North of England Zoological Society, which operates Chester Zoo and Act for Wildlife, visited the area to see how our funding was helping.

“Giant pandas are rarely seen in the wild so the appearance of this one in spring last year caused quite a stir in the nearby village. It rested for a while in a ravine close to the road through the village, and the locals contacted the rangers who arrived just in time to capture this footage of the panda traversing the slope down to the main valley. 

"This rare sighting provides direct evidence of Giant Pandas showing natural dispersal behaviour which is vital for gene flow between populations in protected forests along the ridges in the area.

"The patient work of the reserve rangers, supported through training programmes and community development work funded by the Chester Zoo project, is paying off and allowing dispersing animals like this panda to pass between forest areas without risk of being hunted or chased out of the area.”

“On December 11th 2013, a camera trap recorded the first ever record of a Giant Panda in Laojunshan Reserve – as you can see the picture is a bit misty but unmistakenly a panda!"

Simon Dowell Panda

 

Furthermore, the rangers in the reserve discovered Giant Panda droppings close to the site of the camera trap soon after the sighting.

China Panda Droppings

This represents a range extension for this iconic species and a fantastic testament to the conservation work in this reserve, funded and supported by Chester Zoo, which is now protecting the forest habitat from disturbance.

One of the ways in which we have achieved this is by providing local villagers living close to the edge of the reserve with biogas stoves fuelled by methane gas from domestic animal dung, thus reducing the need to collect firewood from the reserve and hence significantly reducing disturbance (this was reported on in a previous Act for Wildlife blog which you can read here).

Thanks to your continued support, we have now funded more than 20 of these stoves and it would appear that this strategy is paying off and allowing the elusive wildlife of the reserve to return and flourish.”

 

I’m Simon Dowell and I Act for Wildlife

Read more about the project in China on our Act for Wildlife website.

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