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Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary

The Sichuan Giant panda Sanctuary - Wolong, Mt. Siguniang, and Jiajin Mountains - was inscribed on the list of World Natural Heritage in 2006, at the 30th session of UNESCO World Heritage Convention held in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The inscription of the Sanctuary on the World Heritage List was based on the Convention’s natural criterion (iv), recognizing its significance in the conservation of biodiversity and threatened species:
(The Sanctuary) constitutes the largest and most significant remaining contiguous area of panda habitat in the world. It is the most important source of giant panda for establishing the captive breeding population of the species. The property is also one of the botanically richest sites of any temperate region in the world or indeed anywhere outside of the tropical rain forests. Underlining the outstanding value is the large size of the nominated property and the fact that it protects a wide variety of topography, geology, and plant and animal species. The nominated property has exceptional value for biodiversity conservation...

The Sanctuary is located in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains between the Sichuan Basin and the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Fringing the Sichuan Basin on the west and is approximately 100 km from Chengdu, it is made up of seven nature reserves and nine scenic parks (as listed below) in twelve counties under four prefectures and covers a total area of 924,500 ha, surrounded by a buffer zone of 527,100 ha. The landforms within the Sanctuary are varied, including steep forested valleys, scenic rivers, rock crags, wide alpine meadows and the mountain peaks of Mt. Siguniang.

Fauna Protected by the Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is the main habitat of the giant panda, which, classed as a highly endangered species, is recognized as the “National Treasure of China” and adopted by World Society for the Protection of Animals as its emblem. The species of giant panda is a relict species from the paleo-tropic forests of the Tertiary Era, and is highly valuable for taxonomy and studying mammal classification and evolution. While the giant panda occurs in only a very narrow belt region of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu and southern Shaanxi, with a total population of about 1600 worldwide, the Sanctuary is home to approximately 500 of them, representing about one third. The main centres of giant panda population are in the Wolong Reserve, Mt. Jiajin Provincial Park and Fenttongzhai Reserve.

red panda lesser pandaBudorcas taxicolorChinese monal
red pandaBudorcas taxicolorChinese monal
White lipped deer Cervus albirostrissnow leopardNeofelis nebulosa cloud leopard
white-lipped deersnow leopardclouded leopard
 Apart from giant panda, the Sanctuary also features other threatened animal species, including the red panda, the snow leopard, and clouded leopard. It hosts 109 species of mammals in 25 families (more than 20% of all Chinese mammals), 365 bird species in 45 families, 300 of which being local breeds.

Flora Protected by the Sanctuary

The geographical conditions of the Sanctuary, with its wide range of habitat types, the rock and soil types and the wide and complex connections with other major floristic regions, afford the Sanctuary a rich flora diversity. Between 5,000 and 6,000 flora species in over 1,000 genera (794 angiosperm, 24 gymnosperm, 70 pteridophyte and 102 bryophyte genera) grow in the Sanctuary, of which 50 genera are endemic to China, representing 20% of its total. Many species are relicts that have been islolated during the extreme climatic fluctuations of the Pleistocene in the moisture trap created by the high plateau to the west. Species with long evolutionary histories, such as the dove trees, are dubbed “living fossils”. For a number of plant groups such as roses, peonies, magnolias, maples, primroses bamboos and rhododendrons, the Sanctuary is a global diversity center and a grand gene pool.

Giant Panda Protection

giant panda sanctuary giant panda research center
Wolong Giant Panda Research Center
To protect the giant panda more effectively, the Chinese government has consistently allocated special funds to sustain and promote the giant panda research. The Wolong Nature Reserve houses China’s most important, and the world’s first, protection and research center for the giant panda – the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, where many breeding research projects on giant pandas have been successfully conducted. Of particular note is the Center’s Hetaoping giant panda wild training base, where research is being carried out, and wild training offered to the pandas, with the final aim of reintroducing the species to the wild.
Unfortunately, the Wolong Nature Reserve region was destructed in the famous Wenchuan Earthquake of 12 May 2008, including the Research Center, and the pandas (nos. 63) were relocated to Bifengxia Panda Base, another important giant panda breeding facility in Ya’an, Sichuan Province, while the panda base in Wolong is under reconstruction and is scheduled to be back in service in 2012. 

Nature Reserves and Scenic Parks

The Sanctuary spans over a large area in Sichuan Province, and consists of seven nature reserves and nine scenic parks:-
Nature Reserve / Scenic ParkLocation Description                                              
Wolong Nature ReserveWenchuan Countythe most well-known of the parks;
Giant Panda Breeding Centre;
forest eco-system  
Fengtongzhai Nature ReserveBaoxing County
giant panda habitat;
golden monkey, Budorcas taxicolor, Cervus albirostris, red deer, snow leopard, Chinese monal, etc.;
forest eco-system
Mt. Siguniang Nature ReserveXiaojin Countywild animals: gnu, golden monkey, Budorcas taxicolor, snow leopard, Chinese monal etc.;
altitudinal mountainous eco-system;
Laba River Nature ResreveTianquan Countygiant panda, Budorcas taxicolor, sambhar, and other rare animals;
Heishui River Nature ReserveLushan and Dayi Countiesgiant panda, golden monkey;
forest eco-system, dove tree, taxus
Jintang-Kongyu Nature ReserveKangding Countyrare animals: panda, Cervus albirostris, neofelis nebulosa, etc;
forest eco-system
Caopo Nature ReserveWenchuan Countypanda, gnu, golden monkey, Budorcas taxicolor, etc.;
primitive forest eco-system;
Mt. Qingcheng-Dujiangyan Scenic ParkDujiangyan CityChina’s most successful ancient irrigation system on the Yangtse River; one of the birthplaces of Chinese Taoist religion; also a habitat of giant pandas;
Mt. Tiantai Scenic ParkXionglai City
reputed as “a platform to climb the sky” due to its strange landform;
strange mountains, odd rocks, beautiful waters, quiet forest, and charming clouds;
unique geological structure and typical “Danxia” landform
Mt. Siguniang Scenic ParkXiaojin County
reputed as the Oriental Alps, and is famous for its grandness, straightness and forcefulness;
imposing mountains, virgin forests, coryphile, glacier, waterfalls and mountain lakes;
folkways of ethnic Tibetan, Qiang, Hui, Yi and Han groups;
Xiling Snow Mountain Scenic ParkDayi Countytypical of jokuls, forests, and torrential waterfalls;
Mt. Jiguan-Jiulonggou Scenic ParkChongzhou City
a natural forest museum; waterfalls;
giant panda, red panda, gnu, golden monkey, Tragopan temminckii;
Mt. Jiajin Scenic Park Baoxing County
dense virgin forest, charming natural scenery, glittering snow-covered peaks;
precipitous cliffs on banks, serene valleys, deep gorges, clear lakes, splashing waterfalls and wild animals;
Miyaluo Scenic ParkLiXian County,
famous of dense forests, and maple leaves and autumn;
snow mountain, bubbling hot springs, flowing waterfalls; ethnic Qiang group residences;
Mt. Lingjiu-Mt. Daxue Scenic ParkLushan Countydense primeval forests, diverse plant and animal species;
Mt. Erlang Scenic ParkTianquan County
the first pass on the Sichuan-Tibet Highway;
ancient market for tea merchants to Tibet;
dense forest; azaleas of all colors in May; ice peaks, the end of glaciers of ancient times;
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