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Nation's first panda college to open doors in Sichuan

By Huang Zhiling and Peng Chao in Chengdu | China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-11 09:23

When the new semester begins in September, China West Normal University in Nanchong, Sichuan province, will usher in the first undergraduate students in the country's first college dedicated to the study of giant pandas.

The 50 wildlife and nature reserve management majors will be trained to become professionals specializing in the protection of the animals.

The panda college, based in the university's College of Life Sciences, was established in September last year by the university and the province's Forestry and Grassland Bureau.

Liao Wenbo, dean of the College of Life Sciences, said the panda college will cultivate a group of undergraduate and postgraduate students who can work in the Giant Panda National Park and nature reserves.

Covering 27,134 square kilometers in the provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu, the Giant Panda National Park is home to 72 percent of the country's wild pandas. More than 2,500 sq km are in Sichuan's Baoxing county.

Wei Wei, director of China West Normal University's Institute of Rare Animals and Plants and a teacher at the panda college, said, "We will introduce professional courses, such as frontiers of conservation biology, and invite experts in conservation biology from well-known domestic universities and research institutions to give special lectures to students in the panda college."

Twenty-two experts from the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Chengdu Institute of Biology and Institute of Zoology are on the university's expert committee.

Giant pandas are globally recognized as the "flagship species" of the world's biodiversity conservation. They also serve as a cultural symbol for Sichuan, home to the majority of the world's wild pandas.

Wang Yuanjun, Party secretary of China West Normal University, said the university has taken the lead in China's higher education sector in studying the ecology of wild giant pandas, boasting the country's longest track record of such research.

Since the 1970s, the university has been devoted to giant panda research and has created "four firsts" in the field, Wang said.

It has led the country's first giant panda field investigation and research, established the world's first giant panda field ecological observation station, promoted China's first international cooperation on wildlife protection, and published the world's first academic monograph to comprehensively explore the ecological environment of giant pandas, he said.




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