Eco-tour in works to track wild giant pandas

Local | Amy Nip 9 Nov 2018

Ocean Park will launch its first eco- tour from Hong Kong to Sichuan, where participants can track wild giant pandas in restricted conservation areas.

The tour, co-organized with China Travel Service, will take people to Wolong National Nature Reserve and Wenchuan, home to the pandas.

The seven-day tour will enable people to venture into the depths of a restricted conservation area that requires special access in the Dengsheng Forest in the Wolong reserve.

This will be permitted courtesy of the Sichuan Forestry Department and China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda.

Following veteran forest keepers with years of experience in tracking giant pandas, they will explore the area for wild giant pandas.

They will also assist in a census by setting up scientific equipment for the study. The group will also try out the daily tasks of a panda keeper, including cleaning, washing bamboo and preparing food.

Before heading into the forest, they will join a "behind-the-scenes" program to learn fun facts about giant pandas and their conservation.

A five-day tour will launch in December, costing about HK$5,000. It will include a Wolong visit, but not to the restricted area as it will be too cold.

Another seven-day tour with access to the restricted area will be held in April, and will cost between HK$8,000 and HK$9,000.

Ocean Park is hosting a Sichuan Nature Conservation Week until November 14, in collaboration with the Sichuan Forestry Department and Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture Government of Sichuan province.

At the park's waterfront area, there will be an exhibition making use of 3D lighting and videos to bring Sichuan's natural scenery at Aba prefecture to life. With 3D glasses, guests will be able to embark on a visual journey about giant pandas and nature conservation.

Forestry department head Liu Hongbao was asked about Ocean Park's panda Ying Ying failing to get pregnant over eight years. He said the birth rate of giant pandas is low, especially those in captivity compared to those in the wild.

Sichuan authorities are open to the notion of taking Ying Ying and Le Le back to Wolong in order to aid the former in getting pregnant.

The process would take at least a year, but the two governments should first discuss the idea.

"Hong Kong fans would miss Ying Ying. We wouldn't mind lending another pair of giant pandas to Hong Kong during the period," Liu said.

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