Every year on March 16, we celebrate the fluffiest, bamboo-munching bears that are a source of national pride for China. There are two subspecies of panda: The Giant, black and white panda, and the ‘Qinling panda’ – A much smaller, brown subspecies of panda, discovered in 1985 in the mountain ranges of the southern Shaanxi Province in China. In the wilderness, giant pandas live only in the remote, mountainous regions of China. As of 2019, due to rapidly growing population numbers, the status of pandas was upgraded from “endangered” species to “vulnerable” species.
Still, it is reported that there are less than 2,000 pandas left in the wild, due to habitat loss, farming, fur hunting, and other factors. Pandas only live about 15 to 20 years in the wild, but those in captivity can live even longer. Panda bears play an important part in the ecosystem of China’s bamboo forests, by spreading seeds, and therefore, growing new vegetation, which serves both humans and animals. That’s why it is important to protect the panda and its environment.
One factor contributing to their endangered status is the low birth rate for pandas. Considering that female pandas are only fertile two or three days of the year, it makes sense that reproduction in the wild is more difficult for this species. There are about 27 zoos worldwide that protect Giant Pandas, and foster environments to encourage reproduction. The most important factor for preserving wild pandas is to protect their environment, especially bamboo forests, their main source of nutrition.