Giant Pandas' Habitat — Bamboo Forest in Western China

Qinling MountainsThe Qinling mountains, one of the major giant panda habitats

The only remaining giant panda habitat is on the mountainous eastern edge of west China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. Giant Pandas mainly live in Sichuan Province (thus nicknamed "home of Giant Pandas"). Giant pandas usually live in bamboo forest. There are over 50 nature reserves in China to protect giant panda's living habitat.

Habitat Description — Bamboo Forest

Giant pandas live in large bamboo forests on humid and relatively high mountains — about 1,200 to 3,100 meters (4,000 to 10,000 feet) above sea level. Currently about 1,600 giant pandas live in over 20,000 square kilometers (8,000 mi2) of habitat.

Giant Panda Habitat Has Shrunk to Isolated Patches

The giant panda’s habitat once spread across central, southern, and eastern China, and China’s neighboring countries of Myanmar and northern Vietnam. But it has been dramatically reduced by the growth in people's logging and farming practices.

Now the species is restricted to only about 20 isolated patches in western China’s Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi Provinces.

giant panda habitat

The Major Areas of Giant Panda Habitat

Wild giant Pandas are mainly distributed in the Min Mountains (岷山) in Sichuan and Gansu provinces, and the Qin Mountains (or Qinling 秦岭) in Shaanxi Province.

giant panda habitat

The Min Mountains

The Min Mountains (岷山 Mínshān) support the largest population of pandas in China, 44% of all China's pandas. 27 giant panda reserves have been established in the mountains to protect them.

The Qin Mountains

wild giant panda at foping nature reserveA wild giant panda in Foping Nature Reserve in the Qinling Mountains

The Qin Mountains (秦岭 Qínlǐng) are part of China’s most important watershed, which provide a natural barrier between the North and South of the country. They are home to 270 Qinling pandas, a sub-species of the giant panda.

Foping and Changqing nature reserves have been established there to protect them and other rare species.

Foping Nature Reserve is humid all year around, which suitable for the pandas, and 55% of the forest is bamboo, giant pandas' main food. Many pandas live in this 350 km2 (140 mi2) reserve, around one for an area of 2.5 kilometers. Coming across a panda there is quite likely. The reserve is closed to travelers at the time of writing.

Giant Panda Protection — Habitat Repopulation, Reserves, and Reforestation

Giant Panda Bases

Giant pandas at Chengdu Panda Breeding CenterGiant Pandas at Chengdu Panda Breeding Center

Many panda bases have been established to help the reproduction of this species.

Some pandas are then introduced to the wild from the main panda bases in Sichuan:

Over 50 Nature Reserves

There are over 50 nature reserves, covering over 10,000 square kilometers (4,000 square mile), to protect this endangered species. Wolong (130 km, 80 mi, from Chengdu) and Foping are the two major giant panda protection reserves.

Connecting Isolated Habitats by Planting Bamboo Forest

wolongWolong Nature Reserve

Bamboo forest has been planted in the zones between some isolated patches of giant panda habitat to link them together. Now giant pandas have a chance to migrate if food is scarce in their area.

Reforestation to extend existing habitats also helps create a more spacious and less stressful environment for the pandas.

Top Places to See Giant Pandas in China

Visitors can hold a giant panda at Dujiangyan Base.Visitors can hold a giant panda at Dujiangyan Base.

The best place to see giant pandas is, Of course, in Sichuan Province in west China. You can see many giant pandas in the panda base and panda center. 

The Giant Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu,Sichuan, is the best place to see baby giant pandas, and Dujiangyan Base close to Chengdu is the best place for giant panda volunteer program, and Wolong Panda Center is the best place to explore giant panda's habitat

You can also see giant pandas in zoos in other cities, such as Beijing Zoo and Hong Kong Ocean Park.

Seeing Giant Pandas with China Highlights

panda  cub

We know many travelers want to add the experience of seeing giant pandas to their China trips. We can help you tailor-make your own tour according to your requirements. 

If you have no idea, please see the following popular giant panda tours for inspirations:

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