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Seidensticker,1992

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http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Publications/ZooGoer/1992/2/pandasworld.cfm

The Pandas' World

by John Seidensticker

[1]Giant pandas once ranged over much of eastern China. They now are found in only six tracts of montane bamboo forest spread along a narrow crescent in the mountains that form the western escarpment of China’s rich and densely populated Sichuan Basin. This is the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, and these are tremendous mountains with soaring ridges dissected by deep, narrow valleys.

The wildlife and habitats in these mountains were once insulated from man’s influence by the sheer ruggedness of this landscape. But the ruggedness that once inhibited development also increases the region’s vulnerability and decreases its resilience to man’s disruptive influences.

The once-continuous forests in these mountains are now reduced and broken, and the pandas are in a real squeeze. The lower slopes and valley bottoms have been logged and taken over by farmers. The tiger that once roamed these valley bottoms is gone. [2]Herdsmen burn the alpine grasslands and the fires enter the higher-altitude forest, eating away at the upper forest margins. Logging continues in panda habitat because of China’s limited supply of and demands for softwoods. The last remaining patches of giant panda habitat are also home to red pandas, golden monkeys, takin, and a host of other unique animals and plants. Their conservation is a complicated, sensitive, and demanding task.

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