China earthquake shook up pandas
China’s destructive earthquake took a toll on wild panda habitat, State Forestry Administration officials said Thursday. Only 1,590 pandas still live in the wild, and about 1,400 of those live in China’s Sichuan Province, which was rocked hard by the quake. Officials estimate that some 8.3 percent of wild panda digs was completely destroyed, and 83 percent suffered damage. “The dense forests covering these places are now turned into bare land,” says Yan Xun of SFA. “Landslides and forestry destruction pose severe threats to the lives of the surviving pandas.” Pandas in captivity fared a little better — all but two of the 64 bears at China’s famed Wolong breeding program survived — but the quake may have had an impact on future pandas. It happened to hit during the one- to three-day window each spring when female pandas are fertile; 18 of the Wolong inhabitants had been artificially inseminated, but no one knows if they’ll be too shaken up to reproduce.