Panda Conservation in China (Ya’an)

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  • Program:Volunteer in China
  • Project:Panda Conservation in China
  • Start dates:1st and 3rd Mondays of each month
  • Location:Ya'an near Chengdu, China
  • Departure and End Point: Chengdu, China (Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport)
  • Accommodation and meals:Villa hostel and Chinese meals three times daily
  • Activities:Support of conservation center activities and operations
  • Working hours: 25-35 hours per week

Overview of the Project

Unfortunately, pandas are the second most threatened species in the world and it is estimated that there are only about 1000 pandas living in the wild. The major threat to the survival of the species is currently destruction of the panda's natural habitat. Panda’s habitats shrunk by 50% over just 11 years (1973 to 1984) in the six isolated areas where pandas live. Human-based activities, logging, animal grazing and agriculture are the major sources of habitat destruction. Global Crossroad is partnering with the Ya’an Panda Conservation Center in China, an environmental-friendly organization that focuses on attracting more people around the world to pay more attention to the giant pandas and cherish the environmental resources. Its slogan “Caring Giant Panda, Caring Ourselves” is becoming more popular in China. Initial efforts at panda conservation in China were restricted to field research during the 1940s. In 1963, National Nature Reserve was created as a forest reserve by the Chinese government.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been cooperatively working with the Chinese government on panda protection efforts since 1980. There are many new panda conservation management plans in place as an attempt to increase the pandas' chance for survival including: reducing human activities impacting panda habitats, rehabilitation of panda habitats, adding additional panda reserves, and strengthening conservation education and public awareness.

Role of Volunteer

As a volunteer in the panda conservation project in China, there will be a wide range on hands on activities you can participate in at the conservation center. Following careful direction and supervision of professional staff members, volunteers will work to:

  • Feed the pandas multiple times a day
  • Clean panda cages
  • Bathe the pandas
  • Medically examine pandas and help with basic treatment
  • Help staff with ultrasound checks and artificial insemination
  • Observe animals and document behaviors
  • Repair and maintain the center with projects such as landscaping, construction etc.
  • Help local staff with tourism and marketing
  • Fundraising
  • Support administrations with organizational tasks
  • Teaching English to the Chinese staff

Daily Life/Meals/Accommodations

Evening Activities:

No specific arrangements are in place during evening time. We recommend that you bring some books with you since the local hostel does not offer access to Internet. You may also choose to watch TV (Mandarin) or chat with other volunteers at the center.

About Chengdu and Ya’an:

Ya’an is part of Sichuan Province of China, about 2 hours' drive from Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan. Ya’an is located in the highlands with almost one thousand meters above sea level. The altitude brings a sharp contrast of weather and four seasonal sceneries of the year.

Most of the giant pandas in the center stay individually in the captive cages, which are large enclosures consisting of an indoor room and an outdoor courtyard. The semi-nature enclosures are very large wild areas protected by border fences. The giant pandas that will soon be released into the wild will be put in the semi-nature enclosures for a long enough period of time for them to adapt to their natural environment. Although food has to be provided, the giant pandas will sleep there, eat there and recover their natural survival skills until they can be released back to the wild.

Public Transportation 
There are shuttle buses and taxis. By taking a public bus, the trip from Chengdu to Ya’an takes about 2 hours. Then to get to the center, another 40-minute ride in a minibus/van/taxi is required from the center of Ya’an to the conservation project. Important: There are shuttle buses on daily basis, but the last one leaves Ya’an for Chengdu at 7:00 PM.

Accommodations:

We provide living accommodations and three (3) meals a day inside the Panda Country Villa. It is within 5 minutes walking to the Panda Conservation Center by an exclusive route connecting the Villa to the Center. Volunteers will have their own room with a separate bathroom, western toilet, sink and shower. Food will be provided inside the Villa where volunteers will have traditional Chinese set meals; vegetarian meals will be one option as well.

Laundry:

There is laundry at the center, so for most laundry, volunteers must do it by hand. We suggest that after washing your clothes you hang them inside your room or in an area where someone cannot simply walk by and take them. If you wish to have your clothes professionally cleaned and ironed, you must bring them to a professional laundry shop in the Chengdu city area where these facilities/services are available.

Electricity:

Electricity in China is 220 Volts. If you come to China with a device that does not accept 220 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter. You can buy a converter in advance that fits all kinds of overseas appliances.

Medical Facilities:

This placement is close to a local clinic with very basic medications about 30 minutes walking distance. If a volunteer becomes very ill, our China office staff will help the center send the patient to hospital. We do not assume the responsibility for the professional ability or reputation of the local hospital or medical personal. The volunteer must also cover all bills at their own expense and file make a claim for insurance reimbursement once they return home.

In China for any medical emergency, the telephone number is 120. We suggest you call our Chinese staff first because they can help you interpret Chinese and with anything else you may need.

Transportation from Chengdu to Ya’an: 
 We provide pick-up in Chengdu for free. We will be at the arrival gate, he you with a shuttle bus/taxi and accompany you to the Chengdu city center area. We will help you book then check into a local hotel if you wish us to do so. Please note that reasonable local hotels will cost $50-100 per night. Hotel expenses, meals, personal shopping, etc. will not be covered by program fee.

Communication:

The phone system in China is very reliable and mobile telephone services are efficient and cheap according. There are 2 service providers: China Telecom and China Unicom. The former is considered the more reliable service provider.

If you want to use your own phone, please make sure that it has a universal GPS system; otherwise you can buy a phone by paying a minimum of RMB400 Yuan (roughly US$60.00). The SIM card and mandatory pre-paid credit will come up to a minimum RMB100 Yuan at the initial stage you make a phone call.

Once you have a local phone number, please make sure you give this number to your parents and co-workers so they can keep in touch with you on a regular basis.

Skills/Qualification Needed

There are no special skills or specific qualifications needed to join  Panda Conservation volunteer project except for medical requirements. Volunteers need to have a love of animals, an interest in wildlife conservation and remember that flexibility and patience work best as a volunteer.

The conservation center requires that all participants in the program provide their immunization records or a physical exam record that is no more than three (3) months old.