Endangered panda bears are mammals, mainly belonging to the South Western and Central regions of China. They are found in the Gansu, Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces of China and also in the Qinling mountains, along with some areas of India and Bhutan. The two most common panda bears, are the giant panda and the red panda. Giant pandas can be distinctively identified due to the large black patches around their eyes, legs, ears , arms and muzzle. They are an integral part of the Chinese culture, especially Chinese art, and they are fondly called the ‘large black-cats’. They are good tree climbers and swimmers, and mainly feed on the bamboo plant. An interesting giant panda fact is that, one giant panda can eat as much as 83 kg of bamboo everyday. Red pandas have a long structure and also feed on the bamboo plant.
Are Panda Bears Endangered?
Giant pandas are an endangered species and in fact, are the representatives of all endangered animals. There are only around 2,500 giant pandas left, worldwide. They are amongst the most threatened species of bears. Their population is on a considerable decline and this calls for prompt attention and action, to save them from extinction. A giant panda is also the official symbol of the ‘World Wildlife Fund’ (WWF). Red pandas are classified as ‘vulnerable’ and could become endangered soon, if their population continues to decrease.
Endangered Panda Bears – Reasons for Endangerment
Various reasons have lead to the panda bears being declared endangered. A few of the reasons are listed below.
Habitat Loss and Fragmentation:
The habitat of panda bears is limited to the bamboo forests, that are being increasingly depleted. Those that are remaining, have been isolated from each other, and this disables the migration of panda bears. Panda bears are also losing their habitat due to China’s increasing population that is using up their resources very rapidly. Deforestation is also another reason behind the endangerment of panda bears.
Panda bears are dependent on bamboo plants to fulfill their diet needs. When the plant reaches a certain stage of maturity, it produces seeds and flowers and then dies off. The panda bears then need to migrate to another area but are unable to do so, due to habitat loss. This leads to them to starving and ultimately dying of starvation.
Hunting and Poaching:
Giant pandas and red pandas are poached for their skin, and soft and thick fur, especially by foreigners.
Low Reproductive Rates:
Panda bears prefer solitude most of the times and have a very short breeding season. Only one or two cubs are born at a time and the mother looks after just one of the cubs, until they are a year or two years old. A female panda bear does not mate while caring for the cubs and the infant mortality rate is also quite high among them.
Saving Endangered Panda Bears
Due to the increased awareness regarding endangered panda bears, several efforts are being made to save them from extinction. The Chinese authorities have declared the hunting and poaching of panda bears as illegal and several wildlife reserves have been setup throughout China. These reserves ensure protection and security of the endangered panda bears. The WWF, along with the Chinese government, is making international wildlife conservation efforts for the endangered panda bears, along with efforts to maintain their habitat.
Saving endangered panda bears from extinction is essential and because humans are the cause of their endangerment, only they can save these majestic animals from it.