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Are Pandas Endangered ?

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Is the panda an endangered species? Is the panda threatened in 2020? Why is the panda endangered?

At We Love Panda we believe that raising awareness of the animal cause is the main lever for the protection of a species. This is why we are now addressing the vulnerability of the panda in its natural habitat.

Pandas are not endangered! It's nowadays considered as a vulnerable living species. We count today 1864 pandas in their natural habitat. They are present in the Chinese mountains in the provinces of Shaanxi Gansu, and Sichuan. Classified as an endangered species since 1990 by IUCN, it is now considered as a vulnerable species.

In this article you will learn many things such as:
  • Why are pandas endangered?
  • Why should we save pandas?
  • Are pandas still endangered?

big red panda plush

Source : Big Red Panda Plush (We-Love-Panda©)

Why are pandas endangered?

panda dangerous

What causes panda extinction? 💀 There are two explanations for the disappearance of pandas. The first one is the human activity that reduces and fragments their habitats, the second one is of course the global warming. 

First, feeding and poor reproduction are not a direct threat to the survival of pandas. Like each plant and animal species, the reproduction and feeding of the panda is specific. But they are by no means threatening factors, as the press still too often asserts. Only habitat loss and fragmentation, caused by man, are the major threats to the panda.

1) The destruction of its habitat by humans

panda habitat destruction

Mao Zedong's policy has led to overexploitation of resources. Indeed, the Great Leap Forward policy has felled millions of trees for charcoal production. Then the Cultural Revolution plunged the country into chaos and increased the rate of deforestation. Tigers, Tibetan bears, antelopes, wolves, leopards and alligators came very close to extermination in China. Pandas have also come close to extinction, as the destruction of their habitat has prevented migration, a process essential for reproduction and genetic exchange.   

  • Hunting

panda hunting

In the 1960s and even in the early 1970s, poaching was a serious threat. As early as the 1960s, the WWF warned of the animal's plight and chose it as its emblem. After two years, the Chinese government created four pandas reserves and banned their hunting. Hunting pandas was punishable by death until 1997.

Today, pandas are rarely poached. But even at a low level, this can have serious consequences for an endangered species. It is rare that poachers kill a panda. Traps made for other animals, such as musk deer or black bears, injure or kill pandas. 

  • Agriculture and Tourism

The harvesting of bamboo and medicinal plants degrades the panda's habitat. And the development of mass tourism is disrupting the panda and its habitat. Proof that humans disturb pandas and prevent its reproduction: In Hong Kong during the quarantine, two pandas from the zoo finally copulated. Why finally? After 10 years of trying to get a baby panda. They even tried in vitro fertilization, but all they got were miscarriages.

Too much stress, too much pressure from too many visitors in front of their pen. When the coronavirus outbreak spread, the park closed, calm returned. And, the sexual desire between the two captive pandas returned.

2) Climate Change

Climate change threatens the giant panda. Due to global warming the distribution of bamboo forests will change, while bamboo is its staple food and natural habitat. Bamboo 🎋 has a special reproductive cycle compared to other plants. It flowers and reproduces only every 15 to 20 years and thus adapts very little to changes in climate. According to researchers, climate change will cause bamboo species to disappear in some places and other species will colonize certain regions. This predicted decline and new geographical distribution could affect food availability. The giant panda will difficulty find food.

bamboo-deforestation

The impact of climate change will vary from place to place. On the Qinling, Qionglai and Daxiangling Mountains, there will be a decline of bamboo while bamboo will grow on the Min Liang Mountains. The consequences of the destruction of the panda's habitat are dramatic:

1) Insufficient genetic mixing between sub-populations (inbreeding)...
2) Less adaptability to environmental changes.
3) Famine during the massive flowering of bamboos

Why should we save pandas?

Because the pandas is an umbrella species that protects other species! You know, the butterfly effect!

All species are a link in the food chain that allows species to survive. We cannot isolate one species from another. For example, the Alaskan sea otter has a direct impact on our way of life.  If there are no more fish because of overfishing, the killer whales eat the sea lions.

What's the problem? Sea lions eat sea urchins. A decrease in the number of sea lions leads to an abnormal increase in the number of sea urchins. Thus, sea urchins invade the shoreline, depriving fish and shellfish of their habitat and food.

No sea lions, no fish... The modification of the food chain leads to uncontrollable cascading effects (butterfly effect). Thus, if the panda were to become extinct, other species would follow in its footsteps. Experts prefer to preserve an entire ecosystem rather than a single species. 

clumsy-panda

The panda is what we call an umbrella species. It attracts funds for its preservation, thus helping to protect other less publicized species. The panda protects it by sheltering hundreds of other species under its umbrella. In fact, more than 10% of mammals live in China, and 179 mammals share the same habitat as the panda.

The panda protects less valued animals. Less popular but equally useful animals such as pollinating insects and filter-feeding bacteria. But we realize far too late our deep connection with the living fabric, our mother nature. Covid-19 has reminded us that we are full members of this nature that we are destroying. Once one link is destroyed, there's no turning back... The only way to protect these rich ecosystems.

bamboo-forest

Are pandas still endangered?

No! Pandas are no longer considered endangered but vulnerable species.

Updated in 2016, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species admits some changes. The status of the giant panda has changed from “endangered” to “vulnerable”. Re-evaluation in light of the 2011-2014 giant pandas census. As a result of reforestation and an effective protection policy, the population of wild pandas has increased.

For example, the habitat of the giant panda has increased by 11.8% and usable habitat has increased by 6.3%. This improvement confirms the effectiveness of the Chinese government to preserve this species. But, climate change could jeopardize the good results of the last two decades. Efforts should continue to address future threats to the giant panda ecosystem.

happy-panda

Come And Join Our Panda Community!

As you have just seen, the panda is no longer a threatened species, but a vulnerable species threatened by human activity that fragments its habitat. The fight to preserve the panda is not over yet, as this species is very much affected by global warming, which is only just beginning.

Each of us can mobilize and act against the 6th mass extinction of biodiversity. With you at our side we can face the most important challenge of our century. Indeed, the cheerful team of we-love-panda commits to donate one dollar per product sold to defend and save the pandas. Come and join our Panda community!

panda store we love panda

Sources :

IUCN WWF

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