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Pandas displace families
Associated Press, PTI
Beijing, June 28, 2003
First Published: 00:00 IST(28/6/2003)
Last Updated: 18:06 IST(28/6/2003)

More than 500 families are to be moved out of a wildlife park in China's southwest to make room for endangered pandas and guard against poaching, the official Xinhua News Agency said on Friday.

Managers of the Wolong Nature Reserve plan to move about 2,400 people to a nearby village, Xinhua said. They are to receive subsidies to open restaurants and other tourist-oriented businesses. About 306 acres are to be vacated and converted to bamboo forests that provide pandas with their main source of food, the report said. The area is about 800 km southwest of Beijing in Sichuan province.

Authorities also hope the relocations will reduce illegal tree cutting inside the 494,000-acre park and poaching of pandas for their valuable pelts, Xinhua said.

"The emigration is helpful to the panda's protection and will greatly improve the reserve's ecological system as a whole," the report quoted Zhang Hemin, the head of the reserve administration, as saying.

Mountainous, heavily forested Wolong is home to about 100 of the estimated 1,000 giant pandas living in the wild, along with 60 pandas born in captivity at the reserve's breeding centre.

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