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The Giant Panda: How to save a species

UNITED KINGDOM | Tuesday, 22 January 2019 | Views [51]

 

One of the most iconic endangered animals, the giant panda has had decades of turmoil. A combination of reduced habitats, hunting and low-reproduction brought the species to the brink of extinction. However, if you still thought the giant panda was endangered, you’d be incorrect. Various conservation projects have lead to a revival of the giant panda, so much so, that it has now been classified as ‘vulnerable’. Firstly, this article will highlight the reasons behind the Giant Panda’s decline and will then present a timeline of events that have contributed to its conservation and renewal.

 

Causes of Endangerment

 

  1. Climate Change: It might surprise you to learn that the Giant Panda has been incredible resilient over the course of history, surviving natural climate changes that killed off other famously-extinct animals, such as the Sabre-Toothed Tiger. In spite of this, further natural disasters through the years have threatened the Giant Panda, reducing their habitat and population.

 

  1. Human Interference: Arguably the biggest threat to the world’s wildlife, is human interference. In the Giant Panda’s case, the main effect humans have had is on the habitat. In China, vast expansions of urban and industrial developments have reduced the distribution area of pandas from 50,000 square metres to 10,000. This affects the Giant Panda in a number of ways including a reduced bamboo supply (their only source of food).

 

  1. Low Reproduction: One of the more universally known facts about the Giant Panda is its reproductive habits, or lack thereof. Given that Pandas are only in heat one week a year, the window of productive opportunity is smaller than most mammals. There have also been findings in studies relating to overpopulation in small spaces that showed a drop in birth-rates as result of the conditions and stress caused.

 

Timeline of Conversation

 

1936: Ruth Harkness, American fashion designer, captures and brings baby panda Su-Lin to the states. The cub gains a quick celebrity status which provokes a universal sympathetic response. This is an advantage that has not been shared by other species that have bounced back from extinction.

 

1960’s: The first four panda reserves are created in China and a law is passed prohibiting the hunting of a variety of animals, including the Giant Panda.

 

1961: Inspired by Chi-Chi, a Giant Panda in London Zoo, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) makes their logo a Giant Panda. Making the image even more recognisable.

 

1979: China invites the WWF to cooperate in the restoration of the Giant Panda. This is the first example of an international conversation company working with China.

 

1992: Following a decade of the above cooperation, a management plan is put in place. Upon completion, 60% of panda habitats will be in protected areas.

 

2014: Combined efforts from conservationists and the Chinese government result in the Giant Panda being removed from the endangered species list.



In conclusion, the Giant Panda has experienced decades of uncertainty. Although they have shown signs of increasing, the population is still low and there is much work that needs to be done. It is also arguable that the Giant Panda is too recognisable (given that it is the national animal of China) to be allowed to go extinct, hence the amount of effort that has gone into its conservation. It’s a shame that other endangered animals aren’t given the same level of attention and universal sympathy.

 

Tags: animal, mammal

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