Giant pandas were once an endangered species for many years, with a small population on earth. They have been living on earth for about three million years, a living witness and experiencer of history. In recent years, they appear in many attractive ways such as in movies, accessories, Olympics, and even money.
Happily, in 2016, the giant panda is taken out of the endangered list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and become a species of “vulnerable” status. The latest estimate of the total number of giant pandas is 2,060. It’s largely increased from the early years of 21 century when giant pandas are endangered and the number is only a bit more than 1000. It’s strongly proved that the population decline has been arrested.
Giant pandas now typically live in Sichuan province, while some inhabiting the neighboring provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu. Although people think all giant pandas are the same in black and white, actually two different panda populations are living: one Sichuan subspecies and another Qinling subspecies. They are considered a “national treasure” by the people of China.
China has designated over 40 panda reserves across central and southwestern China. These natural panda reserves are meant not only to protect the animals but also to protect their habitat and food source. Researchers can also better observe and study them to assist with conservation efforts.
In the year 2008, a big earthquake happened in Sichuan, the habitat and bamboo plants were heavily destroyed. After the earthquake, more efforts have been taken to establish panda protection bases, to keep vulnerable giant pandas, and to help breed and raise cubs in captivity. Compared to a very low survival rate of cubs in the wild, cubs in captivity are taken good care of by the panda keepers, and a 90% survival rate with newborn cubs is kept.
All these efforts have been helpful to giant panda rescue and protection. We should be proud and keep on doing.
As the red panda and the giant pandas have similar habitat and diet, so many people think of them as relatives of one family. And even in Chinese, the name for giant panda is “big bear cat” and for red panda “small bear cat”. However, scientifically, the giant panda is in the bear family while the red panda belongs to the raccoon family. Although there are scientists saying giant panda should be in its own family group due to its uniqueness. The red panda and giant panda are totally different species anyway.
While the giant panda is taken off the endangered list, the red panda is officially classified by IUCN as endangered species. There are only less than 10,000 red pandas estimated in total. And due to habitat fragmentation and loss, illegal hunting and declining number of subspecies, the total number of red pandas is still reducing.
Compared with giant pandas, red pandas have more cubs at birth, with up to four. That’s why more young red pandas are found in the wild than old ones. This is an encouraging situation. However, considering the severe status of endangered red pandas, environments and people over the world need to keep taking measures to protect red pandas and save them from probable extinction, just as what we do to protect giant pandas. This is a long path but a rewarding course for precious animals and the big nature.
We can all contribute our efforts and care for the giant pandas and red pandas at risk, by participating in the panda volunteering programs in China panda bases or donating 1 dollar for panda protection through buying every piece of panda art online.>