What is the Reason for the Rarity of Pandas?

If you had the choice to keep any wild animal or zoo resident as a pet, what would you choose? If you’re like many children, you would choose a giant panda to have as a cuddly companion. But would a giant panda make a suitable pet?

Undoubtedly, they are adorable. Who can resist their chubby bodies and cute faces? They look so huggable that you would want to pinch their cheeks and give them a hug. However, taking care of them would be quite challenging.

First and foremost, they have a huge appetite. An adult giant panda spends about 12 hours each day eating. During this time, they consume around 20-40 pounds of bamboo. This also means that pandas have to relieve themselves multiple times a day. That requires a lot of cleanup!

Therefore, it is best to leave pandas in their natural habitats and in zoos. Unfortunately, there are very few pandas left in either of these places nowadays.

If you want to see a giant panda in its natural habitat, you will have to visit the cool and damp bamboo forests in the remote and mountainous regions of central China. Additionally, you will have to be extremely stealthy, as pandas have a keen sense of smell that helps them stay away from predators and other pandas.

Giant pandas mostly live solitary lives. They do search for mates in the spring, and female pandas give birth to one or two cubs in the fall. Unfortunately, the birth rate of giant pandas is quite low. Recently, wild panda populations have started to slowly recover thanks to conservation efforts worldwide.

Estimates of wild panda populations vary greatly. Some experts believe that there are as few as 1,000 giant pandas left in the wild. Other scientists estimate that there are around 1,600 pandas remaining. However, a recent study using DNA analysis suggests that there could be as many as 3,000 pandas still living in the wild.

In addition to the wild pandas, there are approximately 250 pandas in zoos, mostly located in China. These magnificent and peaceful creatures are loved by millions of people worldwide. In their homeland of China, they are considered a national treasure. They have very few natural predators. So why are they so rare? Who poses the biggest threat to them?

Unfortunately, the answer is humans. Human activities are the main reason why so few pandas are found in the forests of China today. In the past, pandas were hunted for their valuable fur. However, poaching has decreased in recent years due to stricter laws and increased public awareness of conservation efforts.

Nevertheless, the biggest problem arises from habitat loss, which began around 1950 when China experienced a population boom. Rapid development led to deforestation and farming, causing many pandas to leave the lowland areas where they used to reside.

As roads and railways were constructed through these areas, the pandas’ natural habitats became fragmented. For solitary animals that already struggled to mate successfully, this fragmentation made mating even more challenging. Furthermore, the destruction of their native forests resulted in the loss of the bamboo that pandas relied on for survival.

Fortunately, there is a belief among some scientists that the population of pandas is once again increasing. The Chinese government has established more than 50 panda reserves, which is more than four times the number that existed just a few decades ago. Although giant pandas were previously classified as endangered, they have now been upgraded to “vulnerable” status, indicating that conservation efforts are having an impact. With ongoing conservation efforts, there is reason to be hopeful that giant pandas will once again reach the population levels of the past.

Give it a Try

We hope you haven’t had enough of adorable fluffiness just yet. Try one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member for even more panda-rific fun!

  • Feeling artistic? You can dress up as a panda for your next party or even Halloween! With a paper plate and a few simple materials, you’ll have this Panda Mask ready in no time! Make a few extra masks for your friends and family, and you can host your own panda party. It’ll be a panda-monium!
  • One of the most effective ways to help protect giant pandas is to preserve their habitats in China. In the adventure called Habitat Challenge: Panda Edition!, you will be making decisions about a fictional forest reserve. You will use binoculars, field guides, a camera, and other tools, as well as consult local people to help you make the best choices.
  • Were you aware that there are Simple Actions You Can Take to Conserve the Environment? It’s true! Print out a copy of the idea sheet and discuss it with your family members. What actions can you take that start right at home? You can even use the template to create your very own Family Conservation Action Plan!

Sources of Wonder

  • http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/pandas-vulnerable-endangered-species/
  • http://worldwildlife.org/species/giant-panda
  • http://www.edu.pe.ca/southernkings/panda.htm
  • http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/giant-panda/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *