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Video: China shows off panda bear cubs

November 15, 2012 3:04:58 AM PST
The number of giant pandas living in captivity around China has risen to 341 from no more than 100 just two decades ago, the Committee of Giant Panda Breeding Techniques announced on Tuesday.

A total of 28 giant panda cubs were born at breeding facilities this year, and 20 of them have survived, according to a report released at the committee's annual meeting in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Together with another of the bears which was rescued from the wild, the number of giant pandas living in captivity increased by 21 from last year to 341 in total, according to the report.

However, the survival rate of giant panda cubs dropped from 80.8 percent in 2011 to 71.4 percent this year, according to the committee.

"The protection of giant pandas is not confined to protect one species of giant panda solely, but also to offer a desirable living environment for over 8,000 species of wild animals and plants in the panda's habitat," said Zhang Dehui, director of the giant panda office of China's State Forestry Administration (SFA).

China has set up 64 nature reserves dedicated to giant pandas conservation with a total area of 3.2 million hectares.

"The ex site conservation is actually meant to operate in site conservation, with the ultimate goal being to preserve the wildlife population in their natural habitat," said Jia Jiansheng, deputy director of the SFA's Wildlife Conservation Department.

China's fourth survey on wild giant pandas began in October 2011, spanning more than 50 counties in China's western-situated Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. The more than two-year-long survey will cover an area of 3.2 million hectares and endeavor to provide more data to support the protection of giant pandas in the future.

China had initiated three nationwide surveys since the mid-1970s.

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