SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Conservation efforts appear to be helping China’s endangered giant panda expand its habitat in parts of western China, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.
The animal’s droppings were recently discovered in areas beyond its known habitat in the bamboo forests of the 220,000 hectare (550,000 acre) Baishuijiang Nature Reserve, on the border of Gansu and Sichuan provinces.
“This indicates an expansion of the giant panda’s habitat — and probably of its population too,” Huang Huali, vice director of the Baishuijiang Nature Reserve Administration, was quoted as saying.
The pandas have been helped by efforts to curb insect pests, which have restored the bamboo forests since 2002, Huang said.
China’s State Forestry Administration has estimated 1,590 pandas live in the wild, mostly in the mountains of Sichuan, although a study by Chinese and British scientists released last year calculated there could be as many as 3,000.