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By Diane Small
Native to China, the giant panda is so cute it seems impossible they’re not humans in a bear suit. Long threatened with extinction due to their low birth rates, shortage of food and human encroachment on their natural habitats, these poster children for animal conservation are now facing a new threat: starvation.
Pandas exist on one food–bamboo–and the bamboo that the pandas of China eat is beginning to die off. Whilst it’s true that bamboo is a fast growing crop, their lifespan is around 50 years. Once their lifecycle terminates, they’re done – gone. Dead. ‘Fast growth’ for this tree is relative – a maple tree, for example, takes around 30 years to mature. The last time a bamboo crop finished its lifecycle, around the 1980s, 250 giant pandas starved to death because there was no new bamboo to eat.
The good news is that wildlife conservationists have more support and knowledge than ever before, and at least one nature reserve in China is aiming to move those pandas at risk into new habitats and find them new sources of nourishment. So it could be said that while they’re far from thriving, the giant panda’s existence today is very much due to the efforts of animal lovers around the world striving together to find solutions for animals at risk.
What that means is that the giant panda basically needs your help. Donations to the charity most known for panda conservation, the World Wildlife Foundation, will help the good people at the WWF:
- Increase the area of habitat under legal protection
- Create green corridors to link isolated pandas
- Patrol against poaching, illegal logging and encroachment
- Build local capacities for nature reserve management
So far, this charity has been successful in preserving more giant pandas than ever before, but just because birth rates in the wild are finally rising doesn’t mean the problem is solved forever – charities need a constant source of income to continue their anti-poaching, monitoring and other efforts. Can you help?
For more information, please see: www.wwf.org