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China to Create Massive Panda Reserve, 3 Times the Size of Yellowstone National Park

Apr 05, 2017 03:40 AM EDT

In a bid to revive giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), China is putting up a massive Giant Panda National Park which will be three times bigger than the Yellowstone National Park in the U.S.

According to Xinhua, aside from habitat loss and climate change, local administrations in various provinces in China that enforces different standards on protected land hampers the breeding potential of pandas. Hence, the park will connect three provinces -- Gansu, Shaanxi and Sichuan -- to allow the pandas to move freely from one mountain to another and meet with prospective mates. The unbroken range will improve the species' gene pool and preserve their remaining population.

The report cited that the park will cover 27,134 square kilometers and protect pandas in 67 current reserves as well as other 8,000 endangered animals and plants.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), giant pandas have been classified endangered since 1990. Their status was only downgraded to "vulnerable" last year when a nationwide census revealed a 17 percent rise in the population in the decade up to 2014 -- from 1,596 to 1,864.

Read: Giant Pandas Removed from IUCN's Endangered List -- How Did China Do It?

However, IUCN noted that although the numbers from the survey showed recovery of their population, the giant pandas are still threatened because of climate change and their declining habitat. More than one-third of the panda's bamboo habitat could disappear in the next 80 years, IUCN reported.

Joe Walston, Vice President of Conservation Field Programs for the Wildlife Conservation Society, previously told Live Science that we can help giant pandas adapt to changing landscapes and conditions by providing them with more space.

"The most important thing we can do at the moment is to be able to grow the extent and range of that habitat and by doing that you allow pandas to move across landscapes," he said.

On the other hand, increasing the habitat range of giant pandas would mean sacrificing space for humans. About 170,000 people will have to be moved elsewhere to make way for the sanctuary, Associated Press cited.

Read: Scientists Answer the Age-Old Question: Why Are Pandas Black and White?  

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