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October 15, 2009

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Alligator reserve cuts back on space

CHINA has reduced the area of its largest Chinese alligator reserve in Anhui Province, an official said yesterday in Hefei, the provincial capital.

The Xuancheng Chinese Alligators National Natural Reserve is too large at 43,300 hectares and some parts of it are no longer suitable for the endangered alligators to live, Zhu Jialong, head of the natural reserve administration bureau, said.

The reserve is expected to be reduced to 18,600 hectares. But its core protection area will grow to 5,188 hectares from 41 hectares. Human activities, including industrial and tourism developments, are banned in the core area, Zhu added.

The natural reserve will focus on rehabilitating the alligators habitat and improving their ability to breed naturally.

The natural reserve expanded when it was upgraded to a national-level natural reserve in 1986. It covered areas such as farmland and villages that were not habitats for alligators, Zhu said.

Reducing the reserve's size can focus limited resources to better protect Chinese alligators, also known as the Yangtze alligator, he said.

Zhu said the Chinese alligator is now safe from extinction but remains listed as one of the most endangered species in the world.

About 15,000 Chinese alligators live at the reserve.


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