Created By: Brianna Brullo
The Pandas' World
by John Seidensticker
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.
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.
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. 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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