Rare sighting of wild panda cub at southwestern China nature reserve
CHENGDU, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- A wild panda cub sleeping in a tree hole was caught on camera by a forester at the Dafengding National Nature Reserve in southwest China's Sichuan Province on Sunday, the first-ever spotting of a newborn panda at the sanctuary.
Shamaniubu, a forester with the reserve's administration bureau, was the person that captured the rare spotting on his cell phone.
The sanctuary's panda preservers said that from the video, the cub looks to be less than two months old.
"I found the cub sleeping in a big hole in a tree about 140 cm in diameter. The hole was 50 cm above the ground. And the newborn was so tiny -- almost the size of an interphone," he said.
Shamaniubu and his colleague could hear whimpering sounds presumably from the cub's mother nearby, but couldn't actually see her.
The spotting led to immediate action by the reserve's administrative bureau in order to keep people and livestock away from the area.
The conservation, located about 3,000 meters above sea level, was designated as a national nature reserve for protecting wild pandas 40 years ago, with a total of 22 wild pandas currently believed to be living there.
Li Liang, senior forestry engineer with the reserve's administrative bureau, said that as ecological conditions in the mountain area have improved, infrared cameras have captured quite a number of mother and baby panda interactions.
However, there had been no other sightings of a newborn panda cub before Sunday, especially of one taking shelter in a tree hole, researchers believe.
Li noted that this was also the first time that a wild panda lair was found since the resereve's establishment.
Dafengding is an important wild panda protection area within Sichuan and is crucial to producing more scientific research on the species. Giant pandas mainly live in the Sichuan mountains, while some can be found in neighboring Gansu and Shaanxi provinces.
Fewer than 2,000 giant pandas live in the wild, where they are predominantly threatened by habitat loss.