News World China’s wild panda population up 17 per cent

China’s wild panda population up 17 per cent

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China’s population of wild giant pandas has jumped nearly 17 per cent during a decade, an official survey says, with conservation measures credited as being behind the increase.

The investigation by the State Forestry Administration (SFA) concluded that by the end of 2013 China had 1864 giant pandas alive in the wild, marking an increase of 268 individuals, or 16.8 per cent, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

The figures compared with a previous survey carried out in 2003, Xinhua said.

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The SFA said conservation efforts led to the increase.

Two of the panda triplets play in the Chimelong Wildlife Park in Guangzhou in south China. Photo: AAP

Besides population, panda habitat also increased 11.8 per cent to 2.58 million hectares compared with the 2003 survey.

China had 375 giant pandas in captivity at the end of 2013, the report said, with 166 males and 209 females.

The total figure marked a gain of 211 compared with 2003, citing SFC figures.

The report also said that as of June 2014 there were 42 pandas, including adults and cubs, overseas in 12 countries.

China has cultivated a global fascination with pandas into its diplomacy by sending the animals to overseas zoos where they have proven a wildly popular draw.

Pandas, whose natural habitat lies in mountainous southwestern China, have a notoriously low reproductive rate and are under pressure from factors such as habitat loss.

Underscoring continuing worries, however, the SFC survey said 223 of the wild giant pandas, or 12 per cent of the population, were classified as high risk, Xinhua said.

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