From the moment we arrived on the Panda Base, we have been greeted with warmness and kindness. We were then introduced to the main staff and volunteers that we will be working with us during our internship.
The first panda sighting was a moment of actual realization that we are in China (!!), and that we were there striving to learn the vast array of factors that endanger China’s “national treasure.”
Many questions and discussions arose during our initial days at the base with Dr. Sarah Bexell, our mentor. We began to understand the complexities of breeding programs, and the different paradigms that exist within these types of programs around the world. This includes the difference between breeding programs, that often exists in zoos, where typically the focus is on the monetary generating power of displaying animals. The Panda Base’s motivation is based on education that leads to better protection and understanding of Pandas, in addition to conservation efforts to protect their natural habitats.
The social and political influences in China impacting pandas and other creatures reduces the overall biodiversity in China and makes conservation work challenging. For instance, the devastating impact of overpopulation and the understanding the the overabundance of humans leaves increasingly less room for the planet’s many life forms.
Other key information that we learned concerning issues with population in China is the way in which overpopulation is related to the high need for jobs which results in the implementation of factories producing pollutant-filled emissions. The question that arises is what can be done to change work conditions in China without depriving so many people from their livelihood?
Overall, we were awestricken by the beauty of the panda base and the amazing people that are working for this Center. We look forward to many adventures ahead!!