Only George Schaller, the intrepid and clear-eyed biologist and author, could have written this book. In 1980 Schaller became the first foreigner allowed to study the panda in its native habitat, in China's Sichuan Province. Five years later he emerged shaken and angered by what he saw as mismanagement leading to the panda's decline. Schaller is unafraid to criticize the Chinese government, the U.S. government, even the World Wildlife Fund, which uses the panda as its logo. This beautiful, passionate book shows that, sadly, even a species as well-known and well-loved as the panda faces a grim future in modern Asia.
From Publishers Weekly
From 1980 to 1985 Schaller ( The Mountain Gorilla ) was engaged in field research on the giant panda, in a joint project of the Chinese government and the World Wildlife Fund. He gives a riveting account of his experiences on two levels: observing pandas in their natural and dwindling habitat while simultaneously coping with bureaucratic obduracy, mismanagement, carelessness and lack of commitment among most of the Chinese scientific team. From a rugged camp at the Wolong panda reserve in Sichuan province, Schaller and his wife, Kay, monitored pandas, documenting their travels, courtships, births and deaths. They also tracked red pandas, golden monkeys and takins (relatives of the musk-ox). The project revealed the fragmented habitat of the pandas, which exist in isolated populations threatened by local poaching and depredation of the bamboo forests. Today, fewer than 1000 giant pandas live in the wild. Schaller discusses the "rent-a-panda" scheme, whereby Western zoos pay huge sums to China to "borrow" pandas for exhibit. In 1989 the WWF published a conservation strategy for the panda; it has yet to be implemented. Schaller's account offers a striking example of the conflict between politics and conservation. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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