Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Oct 29, 2010


June 3

After breakfast, we bid good bye to Lhasa city, and headed for the airport for our 11 a.m. Air China flight for an over-night stay at Chengdu.

At the airport, another of our fellow travelers was distressed by the high-altitude environment. She sought a brief session of oxygen infusion at the airport clinic.

The flight was unremarkable, except for the fact that our complimentary box-breakfast contained meat sandwiches, a piece of sausage, yak milk, a bread-roll and a pear, in spite of the fact we had requested vegetarian meals on all flights. Anyhow, less than two hours after we had left Lhasa, we landed at Chengdu airport.

Our local guide took us directly to the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base.

At the Base they use artificial insemination to increase their numbers, since in the wild giant pandas tend to spend most of their time alone or in small groups, and find it hard to get a willing mate. Even if they do, the mate is from the same genetic pool, thus leading to genetic deformities.

But artificial insemination has its own drawbacks. First time mothers are shocked by the delivery experience as well as its product. They do not know what to do with the baby and sometimes maltreat it. Staff ends up caring for the newborns.

Giant pandas are carnivore, although 99 percent of their diet consists of bamboo. Since bamboo does not provide all the nutrition they need to sustain themselves as well as produce healthy babies, at the base they are fed a special diet. Male giant pandas grow to be 260 lbs, and females to 220 lbs.

We reached the Base in the middle of the afternoon. Most of the pandas had escaped from the heat into their air-conditioned quarters for an afternoon siesta. We found a few red pandas frolicking outside their dens.

Red pandas also are solitary creatures, and spend most of their lives in trees. Adults grow to the size of a house cat, and weigh 12 to 20 lbs. Like giant pandas, they also are endangered.

Located about six miles away from the city, the hilly 92-acre Base closely approximates the natural environment of pandas. Bamboos, and other trees and plants provide a comfortable habitat for pandas, as well as other animals like peacocks, cranes, storks.

After checking i
nto our hotel,

Kundan went shopping with our guide, while I went around the block to take some pictures





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