Visit the Wolong Nature Reserve and see Giant Pandas
The Wolong Nature Reserve, located three hours from Chengdu, is the largest giant panda nature preserve in the country. Visitors to the reserve can not only watch these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, but also interact with them with the assistance of handlers at the reserve. This nature reserve is situated in the mountains of the Sichuan Province in western China. First opened in 1963, it now houses 6,000 different species of animals and plants. Because of its diversity and commitment to conservation, the reserve has been given the title of UNESCO Man and Biosphere protected area.
There are four distinct ecosystems located at the Wolong Nature Reserve. There are coniferous and deciduous forests and groves of bamboo high up in the mountains, alpine slopes with a plethora of wildflowers and also the wild yak, glacier covered peaks and river valleys where the vast majority of residents live and work. When it comes to animal life, it is just as diverse as the ecosystems. There is of course the endangered giant panda, but also a variety of other amazing creatures as well. Examples include but are not limited to the red panda, Asiatic black bear, golden snub nose monkey, snow leopard and as mentioned previously, the wild yak.
Along with the animals is a plethora of plant life, including the favorite food of the panda — bamboo. There is scientific study of the bamboo which helps workers at the reserve better serve the needs of the endangered panda. The Wolong Nature Reserve experiences all four seasons, and has many other types of trees and plants as well. They include rhododendron trees with bright blossoms and trees with foliage that turns bright shades of yellow, red and orange in the autumn season. Winter is the off season for visiting the reserve, as temperatures are cold and conditions are wet and uncomfortable.
The name Wolong is translated to mean sleeping dragon. There are four different cultures of people who call the area home. They are the Tibetans, the Qiang, the Hui and the Han Chinese. The most populous group are the Qiang, residing in the Pitiao River region where they have lived for thousands of years and are mostly farmers by trade. This ethnic group are well known for the handmade embroidered crafts such as crafts and apparel accessories they make. Many of the older Qiang still wear traditional garb such as blue body apparel, head wraps and vests made from goat skin.
Because of the incredible diversity of endangered plants and animals who live at the reserve, hunting and logging are forbidden. The staff here work very hard to nurture the wildlife and plants to ensure they will remain for future generations. Although the collection of plant life in the forest is allowed, there are rules and regulations that must be followed. Of course, the main attraction here are the Giant Pandas, which are taken very good care of by the staff with the babies being given special attention until they are large enough to be released into the reserve.