China panda programme provides hope for endangered species

  • 25/12/2016

Proving that conservation efforts can save endangered species, Chinese scientists are being credited rescuing the panda from extinction.

One special breeding programme that started with six sick and starving pandas has now expanded to more than 170.

At the Chengdu Panda Research Centre the toddler cubs are just about getting to grips with climbing. They are playful and full of mischief as they begin to find their feet.

The young pandas are the result of one of the most successful breeding seasons since China's conservation programme began in the 1970s.

"I was so surprised to see so many babies this year," says Xla Li Ping of the Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre. "I think we did a great job. I hope more people will come and visit our pandas."

This year's successful summer of births helped reach a major milestone in the country's effort to preserve one of their most treasured animals.

In China pandas are described as a national treasure, and this year following decades of aggressive investment, research and conservation, they have finally moved off the endangered species list.

The panda has long been a symbol of the global animal protection movement. It is the face of the World Wildlife Fund.

Its change in status from endangered to vulnerable has been welcomed internationally but met with caution in the Chengdu labs, where they continue with their panda analysis.

"We want to keep these numbers stable, so we want to make sure these species still here," says panda researcher Songrui Liu. "Even now it's not on the list of endangered, but still we have a lot of work to do."

The challenge now is to achieve success with pandas in the wild. That would be regarded in China as the ultimate sign of progress.

They believe every new birth in Chengdu takes them a step closer to that goal.

ITV News

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