Sunday, April 4, 2010

Why Are Giant Pandas Endangered?

By Charles Cridland

One of the reasons why pandas are endangered is due to the nature of their highly specialised diet. Pandas live almost exclusively on a diet of bamboo and must consume vast amounts of this plant to sustain their vast bulk. They may also supplement their diet with honey, bananas, oranges, yams, shrub leaves and fish or eggs.

The giant pandas natural habitat can be found in the mountain ranges of central China but it is gradually being driven out of its natural habitat by farming and deforestation. The situation is now so dire that only 1,590 giant pandas are recorded as living in the wild. Pandas have a very low birth rate, further threatening the survival of the species.

Poaching had a far reaching effect upon the giant panda population, with the demand for giant panda skins from the West and such places as Japan and Hong Kong causing an alarming drop in the population of wild panda bears. The hunting of these beautiful animals was banned as far back as 1930, which lead to illegal poaching as the demand for the exotic pelts grew.

Conservation efforts are having a positive impact on giant panda bear numbers which are estimated to have risen to 3,000 and in 2006 as many as 40 panda reserves existed in China. These areas have been designated as UNESCO world heritage sites in an attempt to preserve the natural habitats of the giant panda and its smaller cousins.

Specialized reserves, parks and zoos are now taking an active interest in the preservation of the natural habitat of the panda, fighting to preserve this unique animal and its natural environment for generations to come. Breeding programmes in captivity are now increasing the numbers of pandas, though some argue that this is a pointless exercise as there is not enough natural habitat left to sustain them.

Find out more about pandas and panda conservation efforts at Animal Adoptions UK.

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