Great Panda: Saved from extinction
The heraldic animal of the WWF has survived. With numerous projects, the Environmental Foundation helped to stabilize the number of wild giant pandas on about 1,600 animals in China. In a total of 62 reserves today not only about 75 percent of the panda populations are protected, but many other rare species and the last bamboo forests.
It was a sensation in 1980: The WWF was the first private nature conservation organization to travel to the People's Republic of China. With their help in 1981, the construction of a research and protection center for the Great Panda in the 200,000-acre Wolong Reserve in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan initiated. For this, the environmental organization provided a million US dollars.
The rescue of the Great Panda
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At the same time, Chinese scientists commissioned by the WWF and led by German-American zoologist George Schaller began researching the biology and way of life of bamboo bears in their last bamboo mountain forests up to 3,500 meters for more than four years to create necessary protective measures. The result was frightening: there were only 850 to 1,100 Great Pandas, most of which were scattered and isolated from each other by roads and settlements.
The WWF then supported the Chinese government in preserving and expanding the panda habitat with its bamboo deposits. A national conservation program for the Great Panda was launched, which has since established a total of 62 reserves. Not only do they protect about three quarters of all bears, but many other rare species and the bamboo forests. Poaching and illegal logging in Panda regions have been significantly reduced. By 2015, the forest protection area is to be significantly increased again: to three million hectares - the area of Belgium.
The population also benefits
The protection projects not only benefit the bamboo bear. The "National Management Plan for the Protection of the Great Panda and its Habitat", jointly prepared by the Chinese Ministry of Forestry and the WWF in 1992, took into account the needs and interests of the local population from the outset.
For example, the villagers were provided with modern methods of sustainable forest use and small-scale farming and created new jobs. In the province of Sichuan alone, around 600 people have found a worthwhile job of monitoring the reserves, research and administration, and increasing natural tourism through the pandas.
The "five-tasting fruit"
The WWF wants to expand this further and create other sustainable sources of income for the local rural population, for example with the Schisandra plant: This "five-flavored fruit" is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a universal tonic and is particularly in the protected areas of the Great Pandas spread.
According to a study by WWF, Schisandra can be sustainably harvested if it adheres to certain ecological rules. The more people can live there from these and other renewable resources, the more they do without illegal logging in the panda forests.
Endangered plant and animal species
Red List is growing rapidly
The Red List of endangered animals and plants is growing and growing - and the species are dying faster than the Red List can be updated. Experts estimate that between 50 and 150 plant and animal species per day disappear from the earth. And this despite the fact that biodiversity conservation has been endeavoring for decades to conserve biodiversity.
Dwindling biodiversity threatens us too
When biodiversity disappears, the survival of our planet is threatened. Whether a single herb dies out does not seem to matter much - as long as you do not know who lives on it. The disappearance of many plant species accelerates insect killing. Bees and other insects play an important role as pollinators in a third of food production. The extinction of these species will be felt by people in famine themselves.
Consequences of species extinction not foreseeable
For many other endangered animals and plants, we still can not gauge the consequences of the extinction of each species. In order not to have to experience that, international wildlife conservation has been fighting for a long time.