Quake may force China's famed panda reserve to move
Five staff members died and one panda is missing after the quake. -AFP
BEIJING, CHINA - CHINA'S world-famous Wolong Giant Panda Reserve has been so badly damaged by this month's earthquake that it will probably have to be relocated, state media reported.
'It's better to move, I think,' said Mr Zhang Hemin, the head of the reserve, according to the China Daily on Friday.
Five staff members died and one panda is missing after the massive May 12 quake, whose epicentre was only 32 kilometres away from the reserve, according to the newspaper.
The Wolong reserve used to have 86 giant pandas, but some have been evacuated and the paper said only 47 remain.
Conditions are so dire that the government last week arranged an emergency food shipment of five tonnes of bamboo for the reserve, the paper reported.
'What I worry about are secondary disasters, such as severe aftershocks,' Mr Zhang said. 'The road is easily blocked by rocks falling from the mountain. There would be no way to get the food in.' Officials at the Wolong reserve could not be reached on Friday.
However, an official at the Forestry Bureau of Sichuan province said efforts were underway to rebuild the reserve and it was too early to decide if it should be moved.
'Wolong is the largest reserve area for pandas,' she said. 'And now Wolong is dealing with disaster relief, while a plan for the reconstruction is underway, so a decision like that can't be made at present.' -- AFP
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