China will create a huge natural park for its pandas: an area close to that of Belgium, it aims to group specimens and encourage their reproduction, said Thursday an official newspaper.
The State will devote at least 10 billion yuan (1.27 billion euros) over the next five years to the construction of the National Park for the giant panda in the mountains of the southwest of the country, traditional place of life of the Ursid, according to the China Daily.
The black and white coat and round-eared mammal sanctuary will cover more than 27,000 km2, an area equivalent to that of Sicily or Belgium.
The goal is to push the currently isolated panda communities in three provinces of China to mix and breed.
This is not an easy task: these ursids have the reputation of being clumsy during mating, which is often far too fast for the female to be fertilized. Moreover, the latter is receptive only two or three days a year to the advances of his partner.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released the animal from the list of endangered species in September 2016, highlighting the effectiveness of China's efforts to save the mammal. However, the species remains "vulnerable."
More than 80% of the world's wild pandas are in southwest China's Sichuan province, and the rest in neighboring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces further north.
The park's financing was validated on Tuesday after an agreement between China's Bank of China and the Sichuan Forest Service, China Daily said. The envelope will be used to finance poverty reduction programs in the areas concerned and to build the park's new infrastructure.