The new information in this book is largely the product of a series of successful cross-cultural and biological experiments – that is, people with diverse backgrounds and skills working together over time to create scholarly information, which is already being used to enhance giant panda management. Much of the progress is the result of personal relationships that developed during the course of the Survey, which, in turn, provided some valuable lessons about working together in China. Among these is the importance of developing respectful, collegial partnerships. This does not mean a one-time meeting or research study but rather long-lasting relationships that are sustained over many years. This obviously requires substantial investments of time and money, and fierce commitments by all parties. In China, this also means the need for frequent face-to-face interaction.
Remarkably, all of this has transpired to benefit giant pandas, both ex situ and in situ. While this chapter briefly reviews why success occurred, its main purpose is to share new information about the larger impacts of these relationships. In particular, we examine how partnerships involving giant pandas are addressing one of China's most frequently identified needs – capacity building, thereby creating the next generation of skilled biologists and managers devoted to conserving Chinese wildlife and their habitats. Interestingly, zoos are a major force taking many of these steps forward.
WHY SUCCESS TO DATE?
There are three elements responsible for the significant increase in knowledge about giant panda biology, as follows.