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Giant panda population is on the rise , but China still faces huge challenges

The giant panda, native to the disappearing bamboo forests of southwestern China, was recently classified as vulnerable rather than endangered by the IUCN

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Giant panda
A Giant panda in China. Wikimedia
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  • The Chinese native Giant panda was recently classified as vulnerable rather than endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • The move came as the IUCN reported a 17 percent rise in the panda population in the decade up to 2014 when 1,864 giant pandas were found in the wild in China
  • While highly focussing on the giant panda, China is being unable to manage tiger protection
  • The government rents out pandas to overseas zoos in a gesture seen as a seal of diplomatic approval, but which is also highly lucrative for the ruling Chinese Communist Party

Oct 04, 2016: Now that China’s iconic national treasure, the giant panda, has been taken off the list of endangered species, the government’s wildlife protection strategy would benefit from a change in focus, campaigners have told RFA.

The giant panda, native to the disappearing bamboo forests of southwestern China, was recently classified as vulnerable rather than endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in a development that was largely welcomed by campaign groups.

The move came as the IUCN reported a 17 percent rise in the panda population in the decade up to 2014 when 1,864 giant pandas were found in the wild in China.

But even the Worldwide Fund For Nature (WWF), which uses the panda as its logo, said the news should spur governments to further efforts to save rapidly shrinking populations of wildlife.

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“The recovery of the panda shows that when science, political will and engagement of local communities come together, we can save wildlife and also improve biodiversity,” WWF chief Marco Lambertini said in a statement on the group’s website.

But he warned: “While the panda’s status has improved, other species are under increasing threat, including the Eastern gorilla, which is now listed as critically endangered primarily due to poaching.”

The Chinese government, in particular has focused on the giant panda, while neglecting other endangered species, according to Grace Ge Gabriel, regional director for China at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

Giant panda
A group of Giant pandas. Representational image. Wikimedia

“The Chinese government has actually poured a vast amount of money, manpower and effort into the protection of pandas and their breeding in captivity, because it views the giant panda as a national treasure,” Ge Gabriel told RFA in a recent interview.

Falling short on tiger protection

She said the tiger population, which became extinct in south China early this century, would have been a more valuable species to focus on.

“The Chinese government has actually poured a vast amount of money, manpower and effort into the protection of pandas and their breeding in captivity, because it views the giant panda as a national treasure,” she said.

“In reality, the true value of a giant panda lies in its influence on its natural habitat, and in that respect, tigers are actually more important than pandas,” Ge Gabriel said.

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“Tigers are a species that China and Asia should be really proud of, but the Chinese government has fallen far short so far when it comes to the protection of tigers.”

But she said the government shouldn’t cut its panda program as a result of its removal from the Red List of endangered species.

“I don’t think this means that there should be reduced protection for pandas or their habitat in future,” Ge Gabriel said.

“There is still a lot of work to do to ensure that those pandas bred in captivity are about to return to the wild.”

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China has around 420 pandas in captivity, with more than 200 births at its research center in Chengdu.

The government rents out pandas to overseas zoos in a gesture seen as a seal of diplomatic approval, but which is also highly lucrative for the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Before they can be released, the animals must be trained to recognize predators and socialize with their peers, a process fraught with difficulty as researchers say they still don’t fully understand the species.

Fewer than 10 pandas have been released to the wild in the past 10 years. (BBG)

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  • Antara

    Vulnerable or endangered, protection of such animals are immensely important for the sake of maintaining the balance in Nature!

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)