How Many Pandas Are Left In The World? – 2023
Pandas are those animals that are instantly recognizable. This is due to their black and white coloring, especially the dark circles around the eyes. It is their sweet and cuddly appearance that makes them such beloved animals for many.
Yet, despite all the cuteness in the world, the population of giant pandas continues to decline. So how many pandas are left in the world? Let’s learn more about giant panda populations and what’s being done to improve their numbers.
How many pandas are left in the world?
Many of us find pandas cute because they look like teddy bears. Historically, these giant bears have only lived in China, where they have always been a native species. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), as of now, there are only 1,864 giant pandas left in the wild. Meanwhile, there are reports of around 600 giant pandas in captivity. Compared to the 1,000 or so in the late 1970s, this is a real success story.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), giant pandas are considered “vulnerable,” somewhere between “near threatened” and “endangered.” Given this, what has happened to the giant panda population? Why is this usually solitary creature, which feeds on bamboo, so threatened? Let’s take a look at the reasons for the decline in the number of giant pandas.
What is the reason for the decline in the number of giant pandas?
There are a variety of factors that can negatively impact panda populations. The fact that giant pandas are primarily leaf eaters is one of the biggest factors. Folivores are herbivores that eat leaves. This is something to keep in mind as pandas eat mostly bamboo shoots and leaves. Here’s an overview of how deforestation and other factors are affecting pandas.
Wild pandas are most threatened by deforestation. In fact, this is one of the main reasons they remain a vulnerable species today. Giant pandas have permanently lost their habitat in some areas due to deforestation. There was a time when wild pandas roamed the bamboo forests of many parts of Asia. Currently, wild giant pandas can only be found in China.
Pandas are on the verge of extinction due to habitat loss. Bamboo forests are the main source of food for giant pandas. If they are completely cleaned up, their food source is completely gone. Because of deforestation, giant pandas will starve to death if they don’t get bamboo.
It is not uncommon for animals to adapt to human activities in once wild areas. You may have noticed that mice have adapted to human life. Many animals have found ways to integrate into their new habitats, including birds, foxes, and even coyotes. However, pandas cannot successfully survive among humans. The reason for this is that their diet requires them to eat only bamboo. A giant panda’s digestive system cannot properly digest anything else. Even if they eat something other than bamboo, pandas cannot safely integrate into cities. Compared to smaller animals like squirrels, mice, and even wild dogs and cats, pandas are too big to live with humans.
Illegal hunting of wild giant pandas
Illegal poaching of threatened species may seem unthinkable, but unfortunately, it happens. Poachers have the potential to make a fortune on the black market selling panda skins and pelts. So the Chinese government decided to introduce some tough laws to end this situation. The Chinese government imposes severe penalties on anyone poaching giant pandas, but some poachers persevere despite the danger. Since the number of wild giant pandas is very small, even if a giant panda is killed by poachers, it is a tragedy.
In September 2016, the IUCN announced that the giant panda is no longer listed as an endangered species. They are now designated as “vulnerable groups”. The Chinese government has made a lot of efforts to protect giant pandas, that’s why the situation is getting better and better. The government has taken several measures to ensure the survival of giant pandas.
These actions include:
1. Protect the habitat of giant pandas
To save giant pandas, protecting their habitat is crucial. Giant pandas cannot survive outside captivity without habitat. In order to protect the habitat of giant pandas, the Chinese government has established 13 nature reserves for giant pandas. Fields used for farming have been preserved as forest to allow for regrowth over time. The condition of the trees and bamboo is improving and the habitat is being restored. Forest reserves are also separated from farming practices around the forest.
2. Adopt laws to stop illegal hunting of giant pandas
As we mentioned earlier in this article, poaching is a growing problem in the giant panda population. Buying and selling panda fur on the black market is a lucrative business that can make a lot of money. Laws and severe penalties have been enacted as part of the Chinese government’s efforts to protect giant pandas from hunting and smuggling. Now, hunting and smuggling giant pandas is punishable by at least 10 years in prison and a fine if found guilty.
3. Help captive giant pandas reproduce
Breeding difficulties are common in giant pandas. Therefore, China has made great efforts to help the giant panda population solve the breeding problem. In the 1980s, in the Qionglai Mountains, one of the most important habitats for giant pandas, a large number of bamboos died. Many giant pandas were dying of starvation, they were rescued and brought to Chengdu Zoo. To separate research work on giant pandas, the Chengdu Giant Panda Center was established in 1987. Since then, more than 150 pandas have been born from 6 hungry pandas.
The global population of pandas, while still critically threatened, has seen a significant increase in recent years thanks to relentless conservation efforts. However, with a population estimated to be just over 1,864, the giant panda is still considered a vulnerable species. This stark figure underscores the continued need for strong conservation methods, habitat preservation, and global awareness to ensure the survival and growth of this beloved species. The survival of pandas is not just about preserving an iconic symbol, but also about sustaining biodiversity, which is vital for life on Earth.
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