Story of panda village: How panda changed residents' life

A village in northwest China's Shaanxi Province is deemed "panda village", because not only it is located in giant pandas' natural habitat, but also a group of villagers have been dedicated to protecting the precious animals.

Sanguanmiao Village, located in the center of Foping National Nature Reserve, has seen most of its villagers relocated in recent years in an attempt to preserve the ecology and alleviate poverty. But a group of villagers chose to stay. As people in close contact with the giant pandas for generations, they have become "professionals", patrolling in the mountains to protect the animals. Even real professionals seek their help.

He Qinggui, whose family has been taking care of the bear for three generations, recalled an exciting encounter in 2018.

"At about 9:05 in the morning, I was walking on the road when my horse suddenly stopped. Then I saw a panda. There was a moment of a standoff. Then the panda started to run (towards us) and chase the horse," He said while showing a video he shot at the time with his smartphone.

For He, keeping an eye for any panda has become part of his daily life.

"This is a panda's feces, from yesterday. This is its footprint. Look at the paw pad and the four toes," He said during a routine patrol.

The highly treasured animal has changed residents' life. Now, no chemical fertilizers are used in the farmland and no firecrackers are allowed for any celebrations. 

Like He, many villagers have taken on the role of patrollers, ready to hit the road whenever needed. 

"Whenever a villager spots a panda that does not look healthy, all they have to do is to make a call. Sometimes, they stop whatever they are doing and leave all the farmland work behind. And we'll be there as fast as we can," said another villager and patroller He Yiwen.

(Cover image via screenshot)

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