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Winter Filigree - Giant Panda By Robert Bateman

By Robert Bateman

A few years ago, my wife, Birgit and I were treated to a rare privilege. We were permitted to visit the panda reserve at Wolong in the Szechwan Province of China. Panda country is surprisingly like our own British Columbia with rugged topography and old-growth forests. Our goal was the research hut of George Schaller. During the years 1980 to 1985, he put the giant panda on the map. As we neared the Schaller hut, the huge, old-growth trees were covered with the freshly fallen snow of the previous night. One tree in particular caught my eye. Every delicate strand had captured snowflakes and hoarfrost. It seemed an appropriate setting, with its delicacy and drama, for the symbol of our fragile web of life and the giant panda. Habitat destruction due to logging and agriculture is the major threat to the panda. And, poaching may be the last straw. This sums up the plight of our entire natural heritage. - Robert Bateman

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