Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on May 4, 1993 · Page 5
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 5

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Ukiah, California
Issue Date:
Tuesday, May 4, 1993
Page:
Page 5
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-THE UKIAH DAILY JOURNAL- TUESDAY, MAY 4, 1993 — 5 Tracker now questions whether publicity hurt pandas By KATHY WILHELM Tha Associated Press BEIJING — The panda was the star animal of the 1980s. Children worldwide saved up pennies for panda preservation. Millions of people visited panda exhibits. China built million-dollar centers to house and breed pandas. It didn't save them — it put a price on their heads. Chinese poachers learned they could get more than $ 10,000 for a pelt. World zoos made millions from panda shows. "I am haunted by the realization that the project may have harmed rather than helped the pandas," says field biologist George Schaller in his new book, "The Last Panda." "Had the panda remained in the obscurity of its bamboo thickets, free from worldwide publicity and the greed this publicity helped to fuel, there might not now be so many captives," writes Schaller, an American who did pioneering work tracking China's wild pandas in 1980-85. The book is an insider's story of what went wrong in the world's frantic efforts to save pandas, and why the prospects for the estimated 1,000 still in the wild are fast declining. An additional 100 are in captivity. "The habitat has shrunk by one- third and hundreds of pandas have been killed" since conservation efforts began in the 1970s, Schaller said in a telephone interview from his New York office. He now is director for science at the Wildlife Conservation Society. He said China has not set up anti- poaching patrols or halted logging inside reserves, and world zoos still Had the panda remained in the obscurity of its bamboo thickets, free from worldwide publicity and the greed this publicity helped to fuel, there might not now be so many captives. —George Schaller wildlife biologist, author borrow pandas for short-term shows without regard for the impact on breeding. In addition, he said, the U.S. government has caved in repeatedly to pressure from politicians to allow their hometown zoos to bring in panda exhibits, violating laws sharply restricting the import of endangered animals. Schaller, who visits China regularly to study antelope, argali sheep and other rare animals on the Tibe- tan Plateau, worried that his frankness about the pandas may offend the Chinese. He said the book was not intended as an attack on China's conservation establishment. "You can be assured if pandas occurred in the United States only, the situation would be no better," he said. Some of the problems he experienced stemmed from Chinese suspicion that foreigners wanted to use the panda for their own benefit. Thus, they tried to limit the data Schaller could collect. They refused to let the World Wildlife Fund study wild pandas unless it built a million-dollar research and breeding station. Schaller's most serious disagreement with his Chinese colleagues was over their preference for capturing pandas and trying to breed them artificially rather than taking firm action to clear reserves of poachers and loggers. He said he has not had any official Chinese reaction to his book, which he mailed to the Chinese Embassy in Washington. The officials in charge of panda conservation at the Ministry of Forestry were out of town and could not be reached for comment. U.S. zoos recently adopted a conservation plan that opposes bor- rowing pandas from China for brief exhibits. The Chinese government made expansion of panda reserves the focus of its newest conservation campaign. It announced a plan in December to increase the size of panda reserves by nearly three- fourths and finally move out loggers and farmers by the end of the decade. There has been no acknowledgement that the government misspent past funds. While Chinese media in 1991 were still blaming the panda for its own endangered state — "The male panda has a small penis, low sexual desire and a limited sperm count," the China Daily reported — by 1992 alternate views were being expressed. "We met the pandas' enemy, and it is us," read a China Daily headline last October. WLUEKING SUPERMARKETS ~ for ~ LOCALLY OWNED from Bi-Lo Market FARM FRESH PRODUCE * DIRECT TO YOU 5^3 S^ K ,„.«<#• ..••rOSilliiS-SHi 7f#* &£ MASS if" rv.'a.i'.v .•«>'*" SS-Vfti! SS§«? &mr •;fffi$ &?#s«K!s$; *r I r AVCADOS • II *!& [*?-, «T FRESH GOLDEN RIPE BANANAS FRESH ICEBERG LETTUCE EA »:-i;c- r;«<v> -.-sis' ^ NS LBS/ •*„/•.' >•• Ra 4 tFOR ,99 i* FRESH SWEET RIPE, 12 OZ BASKET STRAWBERRIES 69 ^J ^J BSKT. <\"-c FRESH BUNCH _ GREEN ONIONS 4 >\ SWEET " ' ORANGES OLBs99 I.S. #1 MED. YELLOW ONIONS 49* TROPICAL MANGOES 69 U.S. 11 RED .. POTATOES....3 L Bs99 FRESH 5 LB. CELLO LB iribWll »* i»iV» WbakkW ^^^ ^^^^ GRAPEFRUIT 991 *FORtJt7 NEW CROP! 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Prtc» effective w«Jn«Mtay, Miy 5 through Tuesday, May n , any commercial dealers or wholesalers. Sale items are 1630 S. STATE ST. • DEEP VALLEY CENTER • UKIAH

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