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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 
Panda Conservation in China

CHINA

PANDA CONSERVATION IN YA'AN, CHENGDU IN CHINA

The Giant Panda is among the world's most adored and loved animals. There are only 1,600 left. They are listed as vulnerable, making this experience a true once in a lifetime opportunity.

Play an important part in ensuring their survival by giving your time to caring for and researching these magnificent gentle giants as they go about their daily lives.  

You'll work in the largest Panda base in China, where the focus is on protecting and building a safe environment in which to begin the possible reintroduction of Giant Pandas into the wild. 

This Panda Conservation Center is located in the beautiful mountainous area of the Woolong Nature Reserve and  near  the home of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Leshan Giant Buddha.  


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SUMMARY FACTFILE
Start Dates Available all year round. Programmes start every Sunday.
Duration Projects are a fixed length of 1 week. Longer projects are not available.
Requirements Minimum age 17. No qualifications necessary but you should be an enthusiastic person who loves animals.
Price Full Price List
What's included Arranging your program,
Full pre-departure support and assistance,
Payment Protection insurance
Accommodation and Food

Meeting you at the neearest airport
Transfer to your accommodation
Transport to and from your project
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support.
Certificate of Completion
What's not included Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas, Return transfer to airport.
Who can do this Project? This project is open to all nationalities and all ages over 17.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in conservation and caring for animals and working with wildlife overseas. Good if you want to learn about rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife and doing
panda voluntary work, projects abroad or study abroad.
Also available as a summer placement in China or a short break activity.

WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT:

  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into the Orient and the fascinating Chinese culture

  • The enormous satisfaction of helping an endangered species.

  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.

  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.

  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!

Panda Conservation in China

WORK CONTENT
Get up close and personal, with both baby pandas who weigh only 100 grams at birth and gradually develop to 60lbs in their second year of life to their far larger parents that weigh a massive 250-350 lbs. In the last 2 years the volunteer work at the panda base has contributed to the doubling of the panda population – which is an amazing achievement. The numbers are now such that the panda reserve can at last experiment with returning them to the wild.

Your duties may vary depending on what is required of you at the time, so flexibility is essential. During your placement your daily activities will include:

  • Cleaning of the Giant Panda enclosures, and the nursery.

  • Preparing the food and feeding the Giant Pandas. 99% of their diet is bamboo, however the balance usually consists of rice gruel, high fibre biscuits, carrots, apples and sweet potatoes.

  •  You may also be asked to conduct some research into their habits and health, in order to expand the knowledge of how best to care for these highly endangered species.

If you are interested in animal conservation, this represents a real opportunity to learn about the Giant Panda, something that is unique to China.

A typical program is as follows, but this will vary from week to week and season to season.

Sunday:
Pick up from Chengdu airport.
You will be collected from Chengdu airport by one of our English speaking co-ordinators who will transfer you to the city where you will stay for two nights.

Monday:
After a morning's rest, you can take a tour the city of Chengdu including local markets, parks and the famous ancient pedestrian street of Kuan-zhai Alley. Visit the Business quarter. Later, join us at the welcome dinner in one of the City’s restaurants.

Tuesday:
Transfer to the Panda Reserve (3 hours by bus). Lunch at the Panda base.
Afternoon briefing and introduction to the work you will be doing.
Also registration (where you will be issued with your uniform, volunteer card etc).
Guided tour of the Panda base and meet the panda keepers whom you will be assisting.
Dinner at the hostel restaurant.

Wednesday – Friday:
For the next 3 days you will work as an assistant to the Panda Keeper. General duties will include cleaning, preparing food, chopping and carrying bamboo.

Saturday:
8:00 am transfer to Chengdu City/airport (arriving Chengdu airport at approximately 11.00 a.m) for your departure.
Afternoon flights are recommended.

ABOUT THE PANDA CONSERVATION CENTRE
The Woolong Nature Reserve was first established in June 1980 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Chines Government as a research center for endangered animals in China. This led to the opening of the Giant Panda Conservation Center in 2004.

Since the beginning of this movement,  66 Giant panda cubs have successfully been bred.

The purpose of the Conservation Center is to increase the numbers of Giant Pandas found in the world and potentially begin to reintroduce them back into the wild. This requires the protection of their natural habitat and their major food source, bamboo.

The Panda center has established a 90% survival rate for Giant Panda cubs due to its development in raising twin cubs. In nature a Panda is only able to raise and protect one cub at a time. However, with the help of caretakers in the nursery, they are able to leave one cub with the mother to nurse and bond, while another is placed in an incubator and hand-raised. Here Staff will stay with the baby panda for 24 hours a day, every day, for one week and then the cubs are swopped around. This results in both cubs being able to be naturally raised by their mother and receive the care that only she is able to give.

Panda Conservation in China

Panda Conservation in China

Panda Conservation in China

ACCOMMODATION:

Accommodation at Chengdu:
When you arrive, your accommodation for the first two nights will be at Chengdu. Here you'll stay in a hostel room with between 4 and 6 other people. It has a shared bathroom.

At the Panda Base:
You'll then be transferred to the Panda Base. The Greenway Center in the Ya’an Panda base has been chosen to give you a special environment for your visit to China. It is located 1,100 metres above sea-level with an average temperature of 15 degrees. It is perfect for the pandas – and for you!

The Center is in a pleasant, cosy, recently renovated hostel. Accommodation is in twin rooms with TV, 24-hour hot water and toilets. If you prefer, upgrade options are available (please contact us for further details).

Laundry facilities are available for a small charge (roughly 20 CNY each time). Other facilities include; free wi-fi and a book cabinet with a few books in different languages. There’s also a small shop where you are able to buy the basics like drinks and snacks.

FOOD:
At the Greenway Center you will be provided with three meals a day - breakfast, lunch and dinner. These will be Chinese dishes typical of the local area, comprising mainly rice, noodles and vegetables with some meat.

 

Panda Conservation in ChinaPanda Base


Some of the accommodation in Chengdu

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Got any questions? Please email us: info@travelersworldwide.org

“This week has been amazing!! I love the pandas - they are so cute. I can't believe how fast the week has gone though, everybody's so friendly and the pandas can be so funny. It's a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget''. Fiona, Scotland.

''I had three amazing weeks at the panda base... an incredible experience. You were able to get to know the different personalities of the pandas you were working with and had access to the whole panda reserve''. Lisa, Norway.

''During the four weeks I fell in love - with a panda!'' Lena, Norway.

''It has been a most amazing experience. Not just meeting and working with the pandas, but learning about the culture and society of China. The volunteers are friendly and fun to hang out with, so evenings are pretty great. I think it's fair to say that I've had a few culture shocks, so much here is different from my home in Sweden, but I've had a great time discovering these differences. I definitely want to come back someday!'' Lynn, Sweden

''From the pick up at the airport everything has been great and working so closely with the pandas is truly amazing'' Mikael, Sweden

''I enjoyed my time at the panda base... having fun with the other volunteers. Although four weeks might seem a long time, it passes quickly. This trip was definitely worth it!'' Ashira, Belgium

WHY IS THE GIANT PANDA ENDANGERED?
Giant Pandas are naturally solitary creatures that move freely from area to area seeking out fresh bamboo (their staple diet), creating avenues in order to come together in spring and mate.

This magnificent creature that is known to have survive the ice age, has over the years been faced with great challenges, such as their natural habitat decreasing significantly due to the expansion of humans: the development of new roads, towns and power lines resulting in the need for more logging and thus haltering the natural migration and contributing to the lack of bamboo. (Bamboo requires shade in order to grow.)

This has resulted in Giants Pandas being unable to find new food and thus preventing male and female Giant Pandas from finding one another and being able to mate and increase their numbers in the wild.

The 2008 earthquake in China also had a devastating effect on the Giant Pandas' natural habitat and food sources, thus further decreasing the number of Giant Pandas found in the wild.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT:
Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular program (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind. Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity! 

On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country: When you arrive you will be welcomed by a member of our team who will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to everyone. During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn about the country and its culture, as well as other useful information, like how to use the transport system, banks, safety issues, tipping, and lots more.

ARRIVAL AND TRANSPORT TO YOUR PROJECT
Please note that this will vary from week to week and season to season.

You'LL fly into Chengdu airport on a Sunday where you will be collected by one of our coordinators. You will then travel to Chengdu City which is approx. 30-40 minutes away where you will spend your first day, giving you time to relax and rest. Monday will be spent touring the city of Chengdu including the local markets, parks and later you will be invited to a welcome dinner.  

The following morning you will be transferred to the Panda base which is approx. 3 hours away, where you will have lunch at the panda base with a briefing and introduction to your work content in the afternoon. Registration will also take place, where you will receive your uniform and volunteer card before you will receive a guided tour before dinner.

REQUIREMENTS AND NOTES:
China is still a developing country in a period of transition. The living standard falls short of what we are used to in the West. The Chinese culture and heritage is totally different to Anglo-Saxon or Western cultures. However, the people are very friendly. China is a non-English speaking environment and it would benefit youi to try to learn a few basic Chinese words before starting your program. This will help you to get involved in the daily life of the local people.

  

Panda Conservation in China

Panda Conservation in China

Teach Children in a School in Yangzhou

 

OPTIONAL ADD-ON ACTIVITIES:

While on your placements, you can also book some Optional Add-Ons to make the most of your Travel Experience.

This project can also be combined with any of our other projects in China, or you could even do a second project in a different country in Asia (or elsewhere) - thus doubling your adventure and enjoyment!


LOCATION, EXPLORING AND SIGHTSEEING:

The Panda base is in the middle of nature reserve, thus surrounded by tranquillity and peacefulness, with the loudest noises often only being the male pandas' chatter and birds singing in the trees.

Often after completing your duties there is a fair amount of free time, as Pandas do also want their own space to be wild animals. So during this time there is a range of activities for you to be able to take part in:

  •  Full access to the Panda reserve and volunteer center

  •  The Chinese favourite sports, including: Table tennis, Mah-jong, and Chinese chess

  • Free Chinese language lessons from 4pm -6pm daily

  • You will also have access to the Volunteer Center – this is a general area where most volunteers will take time to relax, chat or eat ice cream.

On the weekends, you will have time to further explore this beautiful country, with options like:

  • The many walking routes in the reserve. (Guided tours are available around nearby waterfalls)

  • Fishing.

  • Visit the hot springs that are approx. 1 hour away from the Panda base.

  • Explore the city of Ya’an for shopping and general sight seeing

  • Visit the local zoo (10 minutes from the reserve).

  • Visit sites like the Sichuan opera, Jinli night fair or the Tibetan quarter in Chengdu city.

  • Hike to the Emei mountain or mount Oingchent to see the giant Buddha

Your project Coordinator will be able to suggest more options depending on your budget and interests

In our opinion, some of the highlights of the rest of China are:

The Army of Terracotta Warriors outside Xi’an - 6000 soldiers and horses that were originally designed to guard the tomb of an ancient Emperor. 2000 years old, these warriors were discovered by accident in the 1970s by peasants digging a well! Every figure differs in facial features and expression, and they make for an amazing sight!

Tropical Xishuangbanna - China's very own South-East Asia complete with sunshine, Thai style temples, Dai minority dancing and water splashing festivals! Here you can explore tribal villages on the border with Burma, or trek through the rainforest.

Northern China, along the path of the ruins of the Great wall, also has many sights, and a slightly rough-around-the-edges charm. Here, you can visit the Gobi desert & climb enormous sand dunes in Gansu Province or explore ancient grottoes and caverns full of religious art & Buddha statues at Dunhuang or Datong. You can even spend a night camping out under the stars in a yurt on the epic grasslands of Inner Mongolia. Here you might find yourself taking part in traditional Mongolian wrestling or drinking the local spirit (hopefully not at the same time!)

China's big cities - The economic and cultural and centres of this blossoming nation can be found in its 3 big cities - Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. These cities are practically alive with energy and each deserve a visit during your time in China. They represent the glitz and glamour of China's future and everything that's hip in China's new youth, with the rich history of Chinese culture running strongly through them.

The far North-West - Xinjiang Province in the far North-West of China next to the borders with Mongolia & Kazakhstan is a multicultural melting pot of Han Chinese, Uyghurs (the local Muslim people) and Kazakhs. Here you can visit Tian Chi, a lake halfway up a mountain inhabited by nomadic Kazakh people or take part in local grape making in the desert around Turpan

TRAVEL:
To read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country, please click here.

Support & Backup: To read about the excellent Support & Backup we provide before you leave and during your program, please click here.

Leshan Temple, China

Ya'an City
Ya'an City



"I had a lot of fun teaching and found it really rewarding: one of the best things that I have ever decided to do." Lina Joshi on her teaching placement in China

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