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FLORA AND FAUNA
Three-month wait for public to see first panda born in Taiwan
by Staff Writers
Taipei (AFP) July 07, 2013


The public will have to wait three months to catch a glimpse of the first panda born in Taiwan, officials said Sunday, a day after she was successfully delivered by parents who were gifted from China.

The female cub was delivered Saturday night following a series of artificial insemination sessions after her parents, known locally as Tuan Tuan and his partner Yuan Yuan, failed to conceive naturally.

The pair were given to Taiwan by China in December 2008 and have become both star attractions at Taipei Zoo as well as a symbol of the fast improving ties between Taiwan and its former bitter rival China.

Taipei Zoo expects the cub, who has yet been named, to set off another wave of panda mania on the island.

With the aid of Chinese experts, zookeepers arranged a series artificial insemination sessions for Yuan Yuan following a botched natural pregnancy in 2010.

But the public will have to wait some months before they can see the zoo's latest addition.

"Hopefully the cub may meet the visitors three to five months later," Taipei Zoo spokesman Chao Ming-chieh told AFP, adding that two experts from China were helping to take care of the newborn.

Taiwan will be allowed to keep the cub as the panda couple were a gift from China rather than a loan, Taipei officials have said.

Beijing usually only loans its pandas and any progeny must be sent back to China.

China's decision to give Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan to Taiwan was a symbolic gesture to show warming ties between the former arch enemies, governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.

China, which still claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island of Taiwan, has used so-called "panda diplomacy" worldwide since the days of the Cold War.

Fewer than 1,600 pandas remain in the wild, mainly in Sichuan province, with a further 300 in captivity around the world.

Indonesians trapped up tree by snarling tigers
Banda Aceh, Indonesia (AFP) July 07, 2013 - Five Indonesian men remained trapped up a tree Sunday three days after being chased into its branches by Sumatran tigers who also mauled their friend to death, police said.

Four of the snarling animals were still surrounding the base of the tree following their initial attack on Thursday, which they launched after the men accidentally killed a tiger cub.

Humans and animals are increasingly coming into conflict in Indonesia -- but in most cases, it is the animals who end up the losers.

The men entered the Mount Leuser National Park in the north of Sumatra island on Tuesday searching for rare incense wood, district police chief Dicky Sondani told AFP.

"The wood is very expensive... but they run a risk looking for it as they have to go to more remote parts of Leuser where there are many tigers and elephants," he said.

The men set up traps for deers and antelopes for food -- but accidentally trapped and killed the tiger cub.

The adult tigers reacted by attacking the men. They killed a 28-year-old identified only as David, but the five others took refuge up a tree, Sondani said.

"Four tigers are still surrounding the men under the tree," he added.

Thirty rescuers including police and soldiers set out on Saturday to rescue the men after villagers who tried to help them turned back after seeing the tigers.

But the rescuers would take two to three days to reach the men, Sondani added.

"If the tigers remain under the tree, we may have to shoot or sedate them to rescue the five people," he added.

The Leuser ecosystem is home to around 5,800 of the remaining 6,600 critically endangered Sumatran orangutans as well as elephants and tigers, but it is threatened by commercial logging and clearance for palm oil plantations.

The Sumatran tiger is the world's smallest tiger. There are only an estimated 400 to 500 still alive in the wild.

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FLORA AND FAUNA
Giant panda donated by China gives birth in Taiwan
Taipei (AFP) July 06, 2013
A female giant panda donated by China to Taiwan four years ago gave birth to a cub on Saturday after being artificially inseminated, the Taipei city government said. Yuan Yuan and her partner Tuan Tuan have become star attractions in Taipei Zoo in the island's capital since their arrival from China in late 2008 amid improving ties between the two sides. But after years of hoping for a na ... read more


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