Reserved to death

China's premier protected reserve for the giant panda is degrading faster than the rest of its habitat. Attempts to protect the giant panda are proving counter-productive. A new study finds that destruction of the panda habitat inside the Wolong reserve in Sichuan is happening four times faster than before the creation of the reserve 26 years ago. And the influx of nearly 50,000 tourists annually is to blame. The neighbouring population is too to blame says a news report put on its website by New Scientist. The local people plunder the reserve's natural resources, especially timber, mainly to meet tourist demands for food, heat, shelter and souvenirs. Wolong shelters nearly 10 per cent of the world's surviving population of giant pandas -- just about a 1,000.

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