The Sichuan Anzi River Nature Reserve has been dubbed the “aisle of love for giant pandas”. It covers an area of over 100,000 hectares and is located in between the Wolong Nature Reserve and the Fengtongzhai Nature Reserve. It homes state-protected animals like golden snub-nosed monkeys, clouded leopards and, of course, giant pandas.
Fu Qiang, Zhou Honglin and Gu Yongqiang are the protectors of the nature reserve and have been working on the grounds for years. They say that the most frustrating thing they’ve encountered at work has been tourists forcing their way into the reserve. “We don’t have the law enforcement power to stop them from doing so. We can only ask them not to go in,” one of the workers said.
On February 7, Fu and some coworkers were patrolling on Jiguan Mountain when they spotted some tourists trying to get into the Anzi River Nature Reserve.
“You can’t go into the reserve, you may disturb the animals inside,” Fu tried to reason. An old man from the tourist group apparently disagreed. “We are here for the trip and our friends are already inside,” he argued. “Just this once, let us through.”
Another male tourist even accused Fu and his colleagues of being muggers and pushed them aside. The rest of the tourist group followed the man inside the reserve, claiming that they were just ‘going in to have fun’.
Tourists cook hotpot in the woods, despite the fire hazards it poses.
“This is not the first time such a thing has happened. Many tourists don’t think it’s a big deal. What they don’t know is that because of this human activity, the giant pandas have been retreating deeper and deeper into the reserve,” Fu told reporters.
Fu says that visitors used to be able to spot giant pandas in Jiguan Mountain Forest Park, but with the increasing amount of human presence in the reserve, the pandas rarely show their faces. Even a single step from a human may trigger a chain reaction of disturbances in the reserve, not to mention the heaps of trash left by the tourists. Stopping tourists from going into the reserve is both for the protection of the animals and for the safety of the tourists, the workers say. There have been a number of occasions involving tourists getting lost or injured inside the Anzi River Nature Reserve.
Last July, four tourists got lost inside the reserve and it took nine hours for a rescue team of 10 people to find them. Still, the visitors insist on entering.
[Image via Tencent]