Updates & Outcomes
The Bifengxia Panda Reserve is the largest for panda conservation in the whole of China, but the reserve has had to overcome some major obstacles in its quest to learn more about these gentle giants.
Back in 2008 an earthquake decimated the Hetaoping Panda Reserve where over 100 pandas were located, and as a result a large number of the bears were moved to the Bifengxia site. Here the population of the pandas has more than doubled in that time, and as a result around 70% of pandas worldwide have originally come from this panda reserve.
The aims of the reserve are three fold. They are; to ensure that the rescued and captive panda population is well cared for, to protect the genetic variation of a species of animal which is notoriously difficult when it comes to breeding, and to facilitate sustainable development of the species in general.
As a volunteer on this project you will play a big part in assisting the dedicated panda carers as they go about their daily routines with the bears, and as a result will help the reserve to accomplish all of its aims!
In need of a little pick-me-up? Check out these gorgeous photos taken by the talented Ami Vitale (National Geographic) at the Panda Volunteer Experience in China! Don't forget that you can volunteer with pandas by heading to our project page now!
March 16th is National Panda Day, so learn more about this adorable yet threatened species by reading our blog!
- posted on 13/08/2017
- by Ellie Hutchin
How up to scratch is your panda knowledge? Fear no more, as The Great Projects have bought you an abundance of fascinating panda facts right here in one blog. These beautiful bears could be seen as the symbol of endangered wildlife, and one way of spreading awareness, is expanding your knowledge in the first place!
When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?
As this is a sanctuary, you will be able to volunteer with pandas all year round. That said, there are numerous events throughout the year which may make some months more popular:
March - May: this is panda mating season, and as a result the bears may be moved for mating research purposes. Volunteers who visit during this season may be able to help the keepers to move the pandas, though please note that this is not a guarantee. Additionally, strict regulations and security conditions forbid volunteers to take part in the actual mating research.
June - August: this is arguably the most popular time of the year, as it’s panda cub season! Volunteers across these months may be lucky enough to see young pandas at the centre, so if this is something which excites you, be sure to book your place early as spaces fill up fast!
November - February: this is the quietest time of the year, but the benefit of this is that you may get to spend a little extra time with the pandas – after all, the fewer people there are involved, the busier you’ll need to be!
In addition to the above events, Chengdu’s weather may have some bearing on your preferred month of travel. Each season is described below:
Spring: Falling between mid-February and April, Springtime is a beautiful time to visit Chengdu. The city (and its nearby areas) are in full-bloom, and if you’re looking to fill your spare time with things to do, consider witnessing the blossoms at Longquan Mountain and Xinjin County!
Summer: China’s summers are known for being incredibly humid, and Chengdu is no exception. While summer lasts between May and August, it’s July and August which draw the hottest weather and the rainiest days. That said, much of your time at the project may be spent indoors as you prepare food for the pandas, and Jiulong Valley (around 1:45hr away) is a great place to go if you wish to escape the heat of the city.
Autumn: Temperatures drop between September and October, and there may be a lot of rain (particularly in the early days of Autumn). However, temperatures are far more comfortable for working in, and Chengdu’s local natural areas are covered in beautiful red maple and yellow chrysanthemum, so grab your camera and get snapping!
Winter: Wintertime can be very chilly indeed, with temperatures dropping to around 5 °C (41 °F) between the months of November and mid-February. Much like in summer, however, you may find much of your time spent working indoors, and with less tourists around, this is a great opportunity to sneak a few extra peeks at those pandas!
You will need to arrive into Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport on the start date of your project (a Sunday) between 8am and 6pm and you will be transferred to the Mrs Panda Hostel to begin your adventure. Pick up is at the McDonalds café, and your volunteer coordinator will accompany you via an airport bus to the hostel. Chengdu can be reached via a number of larger international airports. If you arrive a day before you are free to make your way to the Mrs Panda Hostel, but please inform us of this before you depart.
When leaving the project please do not book flights before 2pm, as you will not arrive back from panda reserve until 12pm on your last day.
A visa is needed for entry into China, and applications must be made in person at a Visa Application Centre as biometric data (such as scanned fingerprints) are necessary. Visas for British citizens are priced from £85 (additional fees may apply); you can read more about visa fees and application here. If you are not a British citizen, you will either need to speak to your own country’s embassy, or you may be able to find out more information by clicking here. Please note that visa applications should be made well in advance of your time on the project.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The currency in China is the Chinese Yan Renminbi. The exchange rate is around 1CNY = 0.1 GBP, 0.14 USD, 0.13 EUR. For up to date rates please click here.
What’s included in the price of the project?
- Airport transfers
- Full orientation and support from the project staff
- 3 meals a day at the panda sanctuary (food on your first night is not covered)
- Tea, coffee and water
- Tour around the vibrant city of Chengdu
- Chinese language and calligraphy lessons
What’s not included?
- All flights
- Visa costs
- Alcohol, snacks and personal items