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Giant Panda Bears Distribution

China is the native home of the giant pandas. Giant pandas are found exclusively in the mountains of central China. They distribute within a limited area of the southern range of the Qin Ling Mountains in Shaanxi province, the Min Mountains bordering southern Gansu province, and the Qionglai and Balang Mountains, the Great and the Lesser Xiang Hills and Liang Mountains in Sichuan province. (Zhu 1980) See Map 1. The mountains of these three panda provinces are divided into several vertical floors of vegetation. Different plants and animals are bounded to specific altitudinal zones that are classified according to their temperature and elevation. (Laidler 1992) The giant pandas inhabit the dense bamboo forests at altitudes from 5000 to 10,000 feet where temperature is cold and there are heavy clouds, stormy rains, and dense mists all year. Also, rushing water and foaming rapids are found in these mountain areas, and winter snow does not melt until June. (Collins 1973) In Mammals of China and Mongolia, Dr. Glover M Allen stated that these mountains areas were “the most interesting and remarkable of the faunal divisions of China.” Allen claimed that boreal mammals, that were once widespread across Eurasia, were pushed south by the glaciers in the north during the Pleistocene era. Since these animals could not overcome the barriers of the east-west deserts of the Gobi and central Asia, they ended up living in the western highlands where the giant pandas are now found. These boreal animals cannot survive outside of these mountain regions. Moreover, that the peaks are too cold and steep for agriculture also account for the vast diversity of species at these mountain areas.

Giant pandas are classed as bears by most scientists. Unlike other bears, they vocalize by bleating rather than roaring. Until recently, giant pandas were grouped with raccoons and lesser pandas (i.e., the Procyonidae (raccoon) family). This decision was based primarily on physiological evidence. In the late 1980's, DNA/serological studies clearly established that giant pandas are clearly more bear than raccoon. Some scientists want to place giant pandas in their own grouping; but for most bear researchers, this does not seem warranted.

The giant panda only exists at present in six small areas located in inland China. The habitat, suitable for the bamboo on which it survives, is a cold, damp coniferous forest. The elevation ranges from 1,200 to 3,400 metres ( 4,000 to 11,000 feet) high. In most of the areas in which they still roam wild, they must compete with farmers who farm the river valleys and the lower slopes of the mountains.

Da xiong mao, the Chinese name for the giant panda means "great bear cat". Chinese books, written over 3,000 years ago, talk of the giant panda. Even then, it was believed to be endowed with mystical powers capable of warding off natural disasters and evil spirits. The scientific name for giant pandas, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, simply means black and white bear.

Site & Research in China Location    
Befengxia Panda Bear Base Research Center Ya'an, Sichuan (Branch of Wolong)  
China Panda Conservation & Research Center Wolong    
ChengduBase North of Chengdu    
Chengdu Zoo North of Chengdu    
College of Life Science
Peking University
Beijing Mr.Pan Wenshi  
Fuzhou Research House Fuzhou    
Luoguantai Wildlife Rescue Center Xi'an
Reserve Name Location Hectares Grade
Anzihe River Chongzhou/Sichuan 10100 P
Baiyang Songpan/Sichuan 76700 P
Baishuijiang Wuduo/Gansu 210000 S
Baodinggou Valley Maowen/Sichuan 19600 P
Changqing Shaanxi 30000 S
Dafengding Mabian/Sichuan 34500 S
Dafengding Meigu/Sichuan 16000 S
Fengtongzhai Baoxin/Sichuan 39000 S
Foping Shaanxi 29000 S
Heishuihe River Dayi/Sichuan 31800 P
Heizhugou Yanyuan/Sichuan
Huanglong Songpan/Sichuan 55100 P
Jiuzhaigou Valley Nanping/Sichuan 64300 S
Labahe River Tainquan/Sichuan 23400 P
Liziping Panda Nature Reserve Shimian Sichuan   S
Longxi-Hongkou Dujiangyan/Sichuan 34000 S
NiuBeiliang Shaanxi 16418 S
Piankou Beichuan/Sichuan 83 P
Qianfoshan Beichuan/Sichuan 17700 P
Si'er Pinwu/Sichuan 26000 P
Taibaishan Shaanxi 54000 S
Tangjiahe River Qingchuan/Sichuan 40000 S
Wawushan Mountain Hongya/Sichuan 16000 P
Wanglang Pingwu/Sichuan 32297 P
Wolong Wenchuan/Sichuan 200000 S
Wujiao Nanping/Sichuan 27100 P
Xiaohegou Valley Pinwu/Sichuan 13800 P
Xiaozhaizigou Valley Beichuan/Sichuan 7700 P
Yele Mianning/Sichuan 18000 P
Zhouzi Shaanxi 52931 S