A Bit About Wolong…

Most towns in the Reserve are situated in wide spots in the road that follows the Pitiao River up into the mountains. Our home base is in Shawan Village, the second large settlement outside of Genda. Shawan is 7 km upstream of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) at Hetaoping, which was the center of all things panda prior to the earthquake.

The hotel where we’re staying reportedly is the best restaurant in town. This makes everyone quite happy.

Home Sweet Home

There’s not too much happening in the village. A quick tour reveals temporary post-earthquake housing, many small shops, clusters of hotel and restaurants, a post office and, parked next to the post office, a temple on wheels, decorated with dragons.

End of the line for the dragon temple

While most of the pandas were moved down to the new breeding center in Chengdu, there are a few pregnant females still at the CCRCGP center in Hetaoping.

Digesting bamboo is exhausting

This set of females are due to give birth in December. Note to self: come back in December.

While the Giant Panda doesn’t have a thumb per se, one of the bones in their paw have evolved to allow them to grasp bamboo and eat it was amazing dexterity and speed. These ladies can put away massive quantities of bamboo, up to 25 pounds a day.

"Grasping" the bamboo with the paw

Peeling off the outer skin to get to the heart of the bamboo

The grounds of the breeding center still show the scars of the earthquake and the resulting landslides. The slopes above the center are  so unstable that while we were visiting, a small landslide came down, forcing us to take a wobbly foot bridge across the river rather than the main bridge.

Huge rocks that came tumbling down from the slopes above still litter the research center grounds

There is hope that the old breeding center will remain at least partially in operation in the future. It’s in a beautiful location and offers opportunties to the people living nearby. Time will tell.

Stone footbridge decorated with panda carvings on one of the trails in the old research center


3 responses to “A Bit About Wolong…

  1. Wow. The pandas are huge and adorable. I didn’t know they didn’t have thumbs.
    I also like the temple on wheels.

  2. cartereb@gmail.com

    Can we start a panda reserve on the ridge? Also, how cuddly are they? looks like a big black and white pillow to me, but something tells me they might think I look like a fun play toy.

  3. Nancy Sieffert

    Fantastic photos and narrative! Enjoying it very much.

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