Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries
The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, located in southwest Sichuan province, are home to more than 30% of the world's highly endangered Giant Pandas and is among the most important sites for the captive breeding of these pandas. It covers 9245 km˛ with seven nature reserves and nine scenic parks in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains. Along with the Giant Panda, the sanctuary is a refuge to other endangered species such as the red panda, the snow leopard, and the clouded leopard. Outside of the tropical rainforests, it is among the botanically richest sites of the world, and is home to between 5,000 and 6,000 species of flora.
The Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries consist of seven nature reserves and nine scenic parks:
- Wolong Nature Reserve
- Fengtongzhai Nature Reserve
- Mt. Siguniang Nature Reserve
- Laba River Nature Reserve
- Heishui River Nature Reserve
- Jintang-Kongyu Nature Reserve
- Caopo Nature Reserve
- Mt. Qingcheng-Dujiangyan Scenic Park
- Mt. Tiantai Scenic Park
- Mt. Siguniang Scenic Park
- Xiling Snow Mountain Scenic Park
- Mt. Jiguan-Jiulonggou Scenic Park
- Mt. Jiajin Scenic Park
- Miyaluo Scenic Park
- Mt. Lingzhen-Mt. Daxue Scenic Park
- Mt. Erlang Scenic Park
Visit November 2007
The giant panda is rarely seen in the wild, only 1500-2000 of them remain. So a panda safari is no option. The best alternative is to visit one of the 16 parks mentioned above to see their natural living environment, plus observe the animal itself in captivity. To achieve this, I went to Mount Qingcheng where 6 or 8 pandas reportedly still live and to the Panda Breeding Centre in Chengdu (not part of the WHS). The best combination probably can be found in Wolong, but I couldn't get there because the road was closed.
This WHS highlights the habitat of the Giant Panda. This includes other animal species, like the similar elusive snow leopard, the golden monkey, black-necked crane, brown bear, red panda and golden eagle. Among the flora the high Rhododendron diversity (100 species) stands out. I spent half a day hiking around Qingcheng mountain (on what is called the 'back side' or 'rear mountain', the higher and more natural side of the mountain, instead of the front where most of the Taoist monasteries are located). The cable car ride up gives a good view of the tall trees in this mixed forest, and also the larger birds (I saw some black/white long tail feathered ones). Hiking down through the lush forest I encountered several waterfalls, caves and a high diversity in low plants.
Unesco has put the original Chinese nomination dossier on the internet (a good read), in which the giant panda is called the single most admired and valued animal on the planet. In the breeding center in Chengdu I had a good look at some of them. They're cuddly for sure. And also unbelievably slow, they just fall asleep climbing up a tree. When they're not sleeping, they're eating - munching away kilos of bamboo a day.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
Visited Bifeng Gorge iÉôľjin Ya'an, Sichuan December 29th. About two hours away southwest of Chengdu.
Originally, there was a plan to visit Wolong and/or Siguniangshan; but we were advised not to risk going to the earthquake-struck area. It was unclear whether the roads are passable; if the scenic parks were open, etc. It is hopeful that Wolong and Siguniangshan will operate again this year.
Since May 2008, most of the pandas were moved to other (safer) locations: Bifeng Gorge has about 30. If you wish to see just the pandas, you can visit either Bifeng Gorge or the Breeding Center in Chengdu. For those seeking scenic views of West Sichuan, we can wait for updates on when Wolong and SGNshan will open again.
| Date posted: January 2009|
|Josie G (Australia):|
I thought the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary was AMAZING. All the pandas were absolutly beautiful. I would recomend the sanctuary for any age, young or old. This is a perfct place for photos. A great day out with the family!
| Date posted: November 2008|
Have you been to Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries? Share your experiences!
Add your own review