Have you ever seen a live Giant Panda? Few of us have, and, unless recent efforts to save this beautiful animal from extinction succeed, even fewer people in future generations will ever lay eyes on one, because Giant Pandas are among the most seriously endangered species alive today.
Until recently, Giant Pandas were disappearing at an alarming rate. As human populations expand, bamboo forests, the Giant Panda’s natural habitat shrinks. Combined with logging and the natural dying out of bamboo forests, pandas are forced to seek new areas of bamboo,but many fail and end up dying of starvation instead.
Giant Pandas usually do not reach maturity for 4 to 8 years and are solitary animals that only seek out the company of other Pandas during the breeding season. This, combined with the fact that female pandas are only fertile for a few days each year make the chances of a pregnancy occuring unlikely in any particular year. When a panda cub is born, it weighs only about 8 ounces and is so fragile, it often does not survive.
For years, all of the above circumstances led to a steady decrease in the known population of Giant Pandas living in the wild. Frequent census efforts showed the problem rapidly worsening, but in 2002, a census finally showed the first encouraging signs that the decline was beginning to reverse itself.
Some of the steps taken to bring about this reversal were:
1, Laws enacted declaring panda habitats off-limits to hunting, logging, and other commercial development. Some areas were designated as panda reserves.
2. China and several other countries have experimented with captive breeding. It took years before the first captive baby pandas were born, but since that time, the number has been constantly increasing. Special incubators were developed to assure the fragile baby pandas a better chance of survival. Scientists are now working to find nutritional supplements that can be substituted for bamboo, the current food essential to pandas.
3. Constant research is being done to further insure the survival of these beautiful animals, but research is expensive.
The most recent census of Giant Pandas living in the wild shows about 1600 of the animals, an increase from several years ago. Progress is being made, but the pandas are not out of danger, yet.
A group called, Pandas International is working to save the Giant Panda. This organization works provides medical equipment and supplies to veterinarians who work on panda reserves. The final goal of this organization is the reintroduction of captive-born pandas into the wild, and, as you can imagine, this is a slow and expensive process. Money is needed for more studies to figure out how to in/_giant_pandareproduction; more incubators are needed to help save the tiny infants that are born; and financing for a Global Positioning System to track the pandas once they are release into the wild are all a part of their plan.
If you want to make sure your children and grandchildren can still see a real live Giant Panda during their lifetime, get involved in this worthwile effort to save the Giant Panda from extinction at http://www.pandasinternational.org/lp/endangered_giant_panda.htm
If you cannot help financially, consider spreading the word to friends and acquaintances by e-mail or phone. ignore the problem, the next time we look, the pandas may be gone. Let’s stop that from happening.