The forests of China’s largest panda preserve are being destroyed four times faster than before the park was created in 1975, according to a study published last week in the journal Science. The human population living inside the 500,000-acre Wolong Nature Reserve grew 70 percent from 1975 to 1995. Residents of the park depend on wood from the giant panda’s prime habitat for heating and cooking, causing deforestation losses in the park to exceed losses in surrounding areas that are not protected. Wolong’s wild panda numbers dropped from 145 in 1974 to 72 in 1986, the last year the population was totaled. In other bad bear news, customs officials in India last week seized bags containing the gall bladders and intestines of at least 1,000 endangered black bears; the entrails were apparently being transported to China, Taiwan, and elsewhere for medicinal uses.

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