The word Panda in Chinese literally means black and white bear cat, a reference perhaps to the bear’s feline like facial features. Giant Pandas are endemic to the south western and central regions of China, which makes their protection even more important. Though bears are usually seen as being carnivores, the Panda survives on a diet of bamboo, although it has been documented that wild Panda’s occasionally eat yams or grass, meat eating is almost unheard of.
The Woolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province is one of the leaders in the field of Panda conservation and for tourists it is also the beat place to view these magnificent beasts in their natural habitat. Being established in the early 60’s the reserve has a huge 200,000 hectares in land extent and is home to more than 4,000 species among them is a total of 150 Pandas.
Apart from the wild Pandas there are 67 captive Pandas. These animals have either been relocated here or are a part of the research centre’s breeding program to bolster the number of bears in the wild. Among scientists the Woolong Reserve is known as a gene bank that holds a number of the world’s endangered species such as the golden monkey, the white lipped dear and gnu. Apart from the animals that it protects the reserve is also one of the few places that rare plants such as certain varieties of Yew and Beech grow.
Tourists can help in the protection of these endangered animals by participating in the ‘adopt a Panda’ program, where by making a donation one can name and adopt a cute cuddly Panda. The nature reserve is located close to a luxury hotel Chengdu known as the Millennium Chnegdu which is a great Chengdu hotel for tourists that hope to explore Sichuan Province in depth.