Giant Pandas, or Ailuropoda melanoleuca, is a very well known animal. They are about four feet tall and are 220 - 330 pounds, though a newborn is only the size of a stick of butter. They eat more than 60 different types of bamboo, but the panda’s favorite is bamboo shoots. They also eat fruit and other plants, but they mainly just eat bamboo. Bamboo is an extremely tough grass, and pandas have 42 special teeth to help them chew it. Pandas live in southwestern China. They are very susceptible to diseases. Pandas are very good climbers, and sometimes use their amazing balance to perform acrobatic tricks. Though they mostly use scent to communicate, they sometimes use sounds. Pandas love to play, especially in water.
One reason pandas are endangered is habitat loss. People clear out the panda’s habitat to build buildings or farms, and without their habitat and supply of bamboo, pandas can’t survive. This deforestation also isolates pandas, for example leaving a panda trapped in one small forest. This can make it hard for pandas to find mates. Poaching used to be a big problem for pandas, but since the Wildlife Protection Act, pandas need to worry about poaching less. However, pandas sometimes accidentally get caught in traps meant for other animals. Giant Pandas used to live all over China, but now their living area is much smaller. There are now about 1,800 pandas living in the wild, and 300 living in captivity.
Image courtesy of Jenny Jonak
The panda population declining has a negative effect on the ecosystem where pandas live. Pandas benefit the people around them by bringing tourists. Pandas are very famous worldwide, so pandas bring lots of tourists which benefits the economy. The giant panda’s habitat has many unique species of animals, and so when panda’s habitat is destroyed, so is the habitat of multicolored pheasants, the golden monkey, takin, and crested ibis. When the panda is protected, all the animals who live in the panda’s habitat are also protected, and when that habitat is destroyed, all the animals who live there are impacted, just like the giant panda.
People are trying to create green corridors, which are pathways that connect pandas that were isolated by development. You can raise money to help bring pandas to reserves where they can be safe, and for building more reserves, because about half of pandas in the wild live in habitats that are protected. You can also spread the word, because many people do not understand just how endangered pandas are, with only about 1,800 living in the wild. Pandas have lived on earth for over 8 million years, so lets make sure they stay here.
"Giant Panda." World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwildlife.org/species/giant-panda. Accessed 23 Mar. 2020.
Giant Pandas." Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, Smithsonian, nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/giant-panda. Accessed 23 Mar. 2020.
Zhihe, Zang, Dr, and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, editors. Saving Pandas. YANUA International PTE, Sept. 2015, savingpandas.com/panda-conservation. Accessed 23 Mar. 2020.
*all pictures used with permission, and/or taken from the sites above.