The panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is a type of bear clearly distinguished from other bears by its characteristic large, black patches around the ears, eyes and across the body. The remaining parts of a panda’s body are white. Although pandas belong to the class carnivora, these species diet is largely composed of bamboo.
Pandas were once widespread in Eastern and Southern China. Now they only live in bamboo forests of Shaanxi, Sichuan, and Gansu provinces of China. The Minshan and Qinling mountains host the greatest number of pandas in the world. The mountains of Minshan host about 720 pandas, which account for around 45% of the total wild population. The Qinling mountains on the other hand host about 250 pandas, which accounts for around 20% of the total wild population. These two mountains are a crucial habitat for the panda owing to the fact that they are densely forested and a water catchment zone.
Unlike other species of animals, pandas do not inhabit a continuous vast land but instead choose to live in distinct patches of land suitable for their survival. Pandas have demonstrated inability to suit themselves up in the face of bamboo forests being cleared up by human beings to create room for human advancement. Pandas maintain a very small niche, a 3-mile radius, within which they move in search of food.
Behavioral Traits and Mating
Pandas are majorly solitary animals. They prefer to be alone most of the time. The male spends his time alone. The female also stays alone with the cubs and raises them. The male and female only spend time together during the mating season, which falls between March and May. Each female has a definite range. The males compete with each other for the female’s attention during the short breeding season.
Pandas make their dens from conifer trees or hollow logs of wood within the forest. Pandas mark their territories with scent markings. They tend to inhabit shallow slopes to avoid any uncomfortable situation. Pandas use scent markers to avoid getting into one another’s territory. Scent marking can involve removing barks from trees and urinating on the tree, secretions may also be left out in tree stumps to mark a territory. Female scent during the mating season is a green light from the female to the male pandas that she is ready for mating.
Conservation of Pandas
As a result of pandas’ inability to adapt to new environments, they are an endangered species. The Chinese government has put in effort to conserve them. The government has established sixty reserves and moved with speed to extend the already existing reserves. In addition, the Chinese government is utilizing idle pockets within the forest by establishing bamboo corridors for the pandas to inhabit. In essence, this makes more room for pandas to move around in search of food and breeding mates.