Giant Panda Overview
Where they liveThe giant panda was once widespread throughout southern and eastern China, as well as neighbouring Myanmar (Burma) and northern Vietnam. Due to expanding human populations and development, the species is now restricted to only 20 or so isolated patches of mountain forest in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.
The panda's habitat surrounds the great Sichuan Plain. To the north are the Qinling Mountains and to the west are the Minshan, Qionglai, Liangshan, Daxiangling, and Xiaoxiangling Mountains.
What they eatThe simple answers is: bamboo. A panda's daily menu consists almost entirely of the leaves, stems, and shoots of various bamboo species. Bamboo contains very little nutritional value, so pandas must eat 12-38kg every day to meet their energy needs.
Life cycleGiant pandas are generally solitary, each adult having a well-defined home range, within which they move about regularly. Encounters are rare outside the brief mating season, but pandas communicate fairly often, mostly through vocalization and scent marking.
Pandas are erroneously believed to be poor breeders. This is an impression based on the disappointing reproductive performance of captive pandas. But wild panda populations involved in long-term studies are known to have reproductive rates comparable to those of some populations of American black bears, which are thriving.
Pulling the panda back from the brink
Risks they face
- Conversion of forests to agricultural areas
- Medicinal herb collection
- Bamboo harvesting
- Poaching, and
- Large-scale development activities such as road construction, hydropower development, and mining.
The illegal wildlife trade and the natural phenomenon of bamboo die-back are also threats.
Because of China's dense and growing human population, many panda populations are isolated in narrow belts of bamboo no more than 1.2km wide — and panda habitat is continuing to disappear as settlers push higher up the mountain slopes.
SolutionsWWF has been active in giant panda conservation since 1980, and was the first international conservation organization to work in China at the Chinese government's invitation. Early panda conservation work included the first-ever intensive field studies of wild panda ecology and behaviour. Current work focuses on, the Minshan Mountains in Sichuan and Gansu provinces and the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi province.
Solutions in these areas include:
- Increasing nature reserves,
- Creating green corridors to link isolated pandas,
- Patrolling against poaching and illegal logging,
- Building local capacities for nature reserve management, and
- Continued research and monitoring.
Scientific Name: Ailuropoda melanoleuca
Weight: 100 to 150 kg
Height: Up to 150cm for Adults
Habitat: Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests of Southwest China
What WWF is Doing
WWF panda success:
- Panda habitat is increasing with the development of new reserves and green corridors.
- Some threats to panda survival such as poaching and illegal logging have been significantly reduced.
- Community development projects to help people sustainably coexist with pandas have been very positive.
- In 2016, the panda’s status was changed from Endangered to Vulnerable on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.
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From the blog
Species of the Week: The Giant Panda!
WWF-Canada is highlighting species at-risk and letting you know how YOU can help them. This week, learn about the giant panda.
Getting wild about Pandas
As “panda-monium” strikes Toronto this weekend with the long-awaited opening of the giant panda exhibit at the Toronto Zoo, it’s a great chance for Canadians to fall in love with conservation.
Giant Panda on two wheels
Our panda took part in Toronto’s symbolic ‘Coldest Day of the Year Ride’ cycling event this morning.