By Rachel Wilson
There are several opportunities to volunteer in countries around the world. If you’re looking to volunteer in Asia, think about working to help the giant pandas in China. The China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda is dedicated to helping save this beautiful species. You may not know, but all of the wild giant pandas in the world live in Western China in dense bamboo forests in the mountains. But because of humans, the giant panda habitat has been destroyed and greatly reduced. Today, there are only about 1,590 giant pandas remaining. The future of these endangered pandas depends on the restoration of their natural habitat. Wild giant pandas need healthy forests and large quantities of bamboo to survive. The shelter of a mature forest protects stands of bamboo and provides safe dwellings for pandas. The female pandas use large hallow tree trunks as dens to nest and raise their young. In order for these animals to survive, they need these forests and hearty food supply.
The China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda was established in 1982 and is located in the Wolong Nature Reserve. After a long and grueling research process, the center has made great progress in becoming the leader of giant panda protection and research around the world. For over 20 years the organization has worked for the preservation of the panda population and has now resolved three key problems of breeding, which has restricted reproduction of the panda. The current panda birth and survival rates are some of the best in the world. The captive panda population of the program has risen from an initial six animals to over 70. A state-of-the-art panda base has been completed to create a genuine panda paradise. It is divided into 6 sections, including a panda raising and breeding area, scientific study area, food preparation and animal hospital area, staff living area, bamboo base area, and tourist accommodation area.
The organization has been dedicated to the education, research, and conservation of these magnificent animals. Supported in part by the US-China Environmental Fund, the organization relies heavily on volunteers and donations to continue their work with the giant pandas. Volunteers are needed to assist in protecting the future of these most enchanting animals. This species is threatened and the conservation is of paramount importance to the organization.
Volunteers take part in a structured one-week program, which includes in-depth training on the care of pandas and guidelines for working with the pandas. Volunteers are also assigned as assistants to trainers who will be able to answer their questions and instruct them in the care of pandas. Volunteers participate in a number of activities, including preparation of food, cleaning panda enclosures, observing and researching the pandas, and assisting in providing medical care for the pandas.
Volunteers are able to stay at a hostel located within the Panda reserve, next to the Panda Conservation Base. Surrounded by mountains, the hostel is relatively basic and is run by local villagers. You’ll share a room with another volunteer and have an attached bathroom, plus three good meals a day. If you want to get the chance to experience Asia up close and personal, consider assisting in this exciting and rewarding program with the giant pandas in China.