In the winter and spring of 1976, 138 giant panda bodies were found in Wenxian County of Gansu Province and Pingwu and Nanping County of Sichuan Province. The results of the study showed that the main cause of the massive death of giant pandas was the lack of food caused by large-scale flowering and death of Chinese citrus.
Just as people did not have an in-depth analysis of the real cause of the death of the giant panda, in the early 1980s, the cold arrow bamboo of Lushan began to bloom in large areas. Because “draw the lessons of the last flowering”, it was suggested: “Because bamboo is the staple food of wild giant pandas, when they bloom and die, giant pandas will die due to food shortage and hunger.” Others suggested: Large-scale disaster relief work should be carried out immediately.”
“The actual situation at that time was: in the Wolong Nature Reserve, in addition to the flowering cold arrow bamboo, there is another kind of bamboo with abundant reserves–Huajuzhu, now named as the stick bamboo, which can be eaten by giant pandas. At the same time, the field researchers learned through radio tracking that the giant panda moved to the bamboo forest for food during this period, and did not find a giant panda starved to death,” Pan Wenshi said.
Pan Wenshi believes that when a bamboo blooms, giant pandas can easily find alternative food resources, unless several kinds of bamboo bloom and die. Even in the giant panda distribution area, only one kind of bamboo grows. After a large area of flowering and death, giant pandas can still feed a large amount of residual bamboo to meet the demand for food.
Pan Wenshi’s research found that the annual consumption of bamboo forest by Qinling giant pandas is actually no more than 2% of the growth of one of the bamboo forests. Therefore, he believes that whether in the Qinling or Wolong, bamboo blossoming and death are not the main reasons that threaten the survival of giant pandas.