From 1984 through 1995 a small band of ecologists led by Pan Wenshi from Peking University conducted a study of wild giant pandas in the Qinling Mountains of Shaanxi Province. This project was the first Chinese-led conservation project in China and was conducted during a significant transition period in Chinese history, as the country opened its society and science to the world. The project focused on behavioral observation of wild giant pandas, but evolved to include physiology, nutrition, ecology, land-use policy, and population biology as the staff became more aware that the issues with captive pandas (assisted reproduction, unusual diet, and genetic inbreeding) were not the most critical to survival of wild populations. It is evident in this work that, as the scientists gained knowledge, they came to see giant panda conservation as wrapped in landscape ecology and human/wildlife interactions. The group was seminal in the Chinese government's enactment of a logging ban to their study area by advocating for pandas at the national level. The project was summarized in a 2001 volume, but its publication in Mandarin limited its influence on the greater conservation community. This English version of the original work translates, condenses, and refines the original volume, with added contextual chapters on the importance of this volume and how our understanding of giant panda conservation is shaped by this pioneering field work.
Encouraged by the findings from the Wolong panda studies (The Giant Pandas of Wolong, by G. Schaller et al., CH, Oct'85), Wenshi (Peking Univ.) and other Chinese wildlife biologists working under grueling conditions undertook the "first Chinese-led conservation project" in the country to study wild radio-collared pandas inhabiting the high-elevation regenerating forest in Qinling Mountains, Shaanxi Province. They summarized/analyzed over 10 years of data, including research methodology, in a 2001 publication written in Mandarin Chinese. Topics covered included population abundance, distribution and dynamics, dens, home range, movement migration, dispersal routes and activity location, activity budgets, behavioral relationships of mother and young, mating systems, and feeding strategies and nutrition relative to the various bamboo species. A translation and updated version of this highly significant book makes previously inaccessible information on the life history and ecology of this world icon species, as well as its relationship to the biotic landscape and land use policy that impacts the survival of the species, available to a wide audience. It is a valuable resource for readers in conservation biology, wildlife biology, and zoology. --R. L. Smith, West Virginia University
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.