The giant panda, known commonly simply as the panda, is a bear that is native to China. More specifically, they can be found living in the southern and central parts of China. They are animals that are known and beloved all over the world, famous for their specific looks. Pandas have large black patches around their eyes, over their ears and all over their bodies.
Pandas have been driven out of areas they used to live in as a result of deforestation and farming. They are often living in captivity, with a significant number of them living in zoos around the world.
While their numbers are low, they have been steadily rising, so the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) changed their classification from “endangered” to “vulnerable” in 2016. This means they are not endangered, but we should still carefully try to help keep their numbers high and rising.
The Symbol Of China
Pandas are folivores, meaning they eat leaves most of the time. Bamboo shoots and leaves make up the large majority of their diet. They are known sometimes to eat other types of vegetation, and occasionally meat, mostly birds or rodents. Pandas in captivity are given various foods, such as fish, bananas, oranges, eggs, or honey. Adult pandas do not have natural predators except for humans. However, young cubs can often be attacked by eagles, snow leopards, the Asian black bear, or wild dogs. This can also happen to smaller adults.
The giant panda is an animal known throughout the world for its distinct look. While they do resemble bears, their colors are what makes them such an iconic animal. Their black and white fur is supposedly used for camouflage in the rocky and snowy mountains. Pandas are often considered to be the national symbol of China internationally. That is the reason why they are often used for promotion in various international contexts. One example could be that it was chosen as one of the five mascots of the Beijing Olympics.
Pandas As A Vulnerable Species
The giant panda is situated in several mountain ranges in the south and central China. Their numbers have been in a severe decline for an extended period. They are considered to be a conservation-reliant vulnerable species. This means that they need to be monitored continuously to keep their number from lowering. According to a report from 2007, 239 pandas were living in captivity in China, while 27 more were reported outside of the country. The number of giant pandas in captivity outside of China grew to 49 in 2914.
Their numbers in the wild are hard to estimate correctly. Some reports place the number to be at around 1,590, while another study estimated that there could be up to 3,000 pandas living in the wild. Whatever the case may be, most research shows that their numbers have been slowly increasing over the years. It was reported in March of 2015, that the population of pandas living in the wilderness rose by 268. That means that there was a 16.8% increase.
If we take the number of 1590 pandas from 2007 as the correct one, that would mean that the entire population is now somewhere around 1864 pandas. This was the reason that the pandas were reclassified from “endangered” to “vulnerable” in 2016.