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80 Percent of China's Panda Habitat Damaged by Earthquake


Forestry officials in China say they estimate that the powerful May 12 earthquake destroyed or damaged more than 80 percent of the giant panda's remaining habitat.

A senior forestry official told a Hong Kong newspaper the "South China Morning Post" that about two-thirds of the wild population is likely dead, injured or facing starvation.

Last week, China's State Forestry Administration had said it lacked first-hand information about how the quake affected the endangered animals. Officials said landslides have made areas where they live too difficult and dangerous to reach.

About 1,600 of the animals remain in the wild, mostly in steep, bamboo-covered mountains in Sichuan province.

At least one captive panda from the Wolong nature reserve has already been found dead and another is missing.

A strong earthquake in Sichuan province in the 1970s was followed by widespread blossoming of bamboo - the giant panda's exclusive source of food. Bamboo dies after it flowers, so the animals suffered a serious food shortage.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.



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