Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries (2006)

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Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, home to more than 30% of the world's highly endangered pandas, covers 924,500 ha with seven nature reserves and nine scenic parks in the Qionglai and Jiajin Mountains. The sanctuaries constitute the largest remaining contiguous habitat of the giant panda, a relict from the paleo-tropic forests of the Tertiary Era. It is also the species' most important site for captive breeding. 

China 1985. Souvenir sheet. Giant Pandas. 

The sanctuaries are home to other globally endangered animals such as the red panda, the snow leopard and clouded leopard. 

China 1990. Snow Leopard.

  • China 1990. Snow Leopard. 

They are among the botanically richest sites of any region in the world, outside the tropical rain forests, with between 5,000 and 6,000 species of flora in over 1,000 genera. 

  • China 1985. Souvenir sheet. Giant Pandas. 
China 1985. Set of four showing the stylized drawings of the Panda.  Stamp #1 of four. China 1985. Set of four showing the stylized drawings of the Panda.  Stamp #2 of four. China 1985. Set of four showing the stylized drawings of the Panda.  Stamp #3 of four. China 1985. Set of four showing the stylized drawings of the Panda.  Stamp #4 of four.

According to a recent survey, there are approximately 1,600 pandas in the wild. However, habitat loss and the unsustainable use of natural resources have pandas clinging to survival across their range, as large areas of natural forest have been cleared for agriculture, timber and fuelwood. Because of China’s dense human population, many panda populations are isolated in narrow belts of bamboo no more than 1,000–1,200 metres in width. 

China 1973. Panda Mother cuddling her cub.

China 1973. 20f. Panda eating Bamboo. China 1973. Pandas playing. China 1973. 4f. Panda eating Bamboo.

Please note, that there are two more stamps in the above 1973-set. They are very similar to those shown here, but are omitted from this page for layout- and space reasons. 

Giant Panda is the common name for a bear found in provinces of western China. The giant panda resembles other bears in general appearance, with the exception of the black patches over its eyes, ears, and legs and the black band across its shoulders. Giant pandas live in bamboo forests at high elevations and feed primarily on bamboo. Unlike other bears, they vocalize by bleating rather than roaring.

Females weigh about 80 kg (about 180 lb), and males weigh about 100 kg (about 220 lb). The giant panda's so-called sixth front toe is not a digit or claw but an enlarged wrist bone that functions as a thumb in grasping food. Giant pandas feed almost exclusively on bamboo, which is not highly nutritious. Furthermore, some bamboo species flower simultaneously and die shortly afterward, occasionally leading to starvation among giant panda populations. If their usual food supply is threatened, giant pandas may feed on gardens, crops, and even chickens, but they are little threat to people except in close encounters. The habitats of family groups and the survival of juvenile giant pandas are still poorly understood. Giant pandas seem to have no permanent den and do not hibernate, although they shelter in the winter in dens or hollow trees. Giant pandas are fairly solitary most of the year. Females may live in loose groups within the range of a dominant male.

China 1995. Brown Panda (koala). Joint issue with Australia. China 1995. black/white panda. Joint issue with Australia.

Breeding takes place from March to May, and the young are born three to six months later weighing only 85 to 140 g (3 to 5 oz). Two cubs may be born, but only one survives. The young cry loudly for help and require great care from the mothers, and losses of young are a serious problem in the recovery and management of giant-panda populations. The giant panda's broken range has created six isolated populations. The total number of giant pandas in the wild is now about 1,000. Because giant pandas are restricted to a small area of western China, their status may be the most precarious of all the species of bears. World interest and research funds from many nations have improved the giant panda's status, but the species remains vulnerable to humans.

Scientific classification: The giant panda was formerly classified as a member of the raccoon family, but it now is considered a true bear. The giant panda belongs to the subfamily Ailuropodinae in the family Ursidae, order Carnivora. It is classified as Ailuropoda melanoleuca. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in China (on this site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section China for further information about the individual properties.  

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Revised 20 jun 2007  
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