There have been grave concerns over the future of the species as China continues its rapid economic development. The Western China Development Programme in particular is expected to increase the pressure on the survival of the remaining pandas in the area. The Qinling panda population is especially fragile, since it is distributed in a separate mountain range with little connection to others.
However those intent on preventing the extinction of the giant panda have made some progress. In late 2002, the Shaanxi provincial government officially sanctioned five new panda reserves and five panda corridors to link panda populations, increasing protected areas in Qinling by 130,000 hectares. There are now over 30 giant panda reserves in China, protecting about 50% of the panda habitat.
The challenge now is to ensure that there are sufficient resources in these reserves to ensure that conservation is successful. GVI, one of the world’s most progressive volunteering organisations, has therefore launched an unique two-week expedition to assist trackers in the Foping Nature Reserve. Volunteers will help monitor and patrol different areas of the reserve and will learn to identify panda footprints, droppings and recent feeding areas. Only a few hundred permits are released each year to international visitors to enter Foping, and GVI volunteers have special permission to visit and assist at the research station.
After spending time in the reserve and working with local trackers and researchers, volunteers will have a greater understanding about the issues facing pandas and their continued survival, and it is hoped that they will spread this message to a wider audience on their return home.
The Foping Nature Reserve is also home to a host of rare species, as one visitor to the reserve highlighted:
This trip is certain to prove a popular choice with volunteers. For further information, and to book a place on this project, please visit www.gvi.co.uk.
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Global Vision International (GVI) is an internationally based volunteer abroad organisation which offers volunteer programs in Africa, South America, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Formed in 1998, Global Vision International provides support and services to international charities, non-profits and governmental agencies through volunteering opportunities and direct funding, filling a critical void in the fields of environmental research, conservation, education and community development. Various types of overseas volunteer work are offered including volunteer holidays, gap year volunteering, short term volunteering, long term volunteering, volunteer internships, intern abroad programs, student volunteer abroad programs and employee volunteering trips abroad.
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GVI's mission is to offer qualifying projects the necessary financial and volunteer assistance required to achieve their goals in conservation and community development. GVI sends over 2,000 volunteers away every year to aid-reliant projects worldwide.