Pandas are beautiful creatures that live in China, along side bamboo! Although they have the digestive systems of carnivores, pandas eat up to 38 kilograms of bamboo each day! Only 1 per cent of their diet consists of small rodents or other plants. The experts say that since they have carnivorous appetites, but love bamboo, they need to eat more of it to keep their energy levels adequate – not that they do much except eat, sleep and play!
Unfortunately, the panda is also an endangered species and, to make the problem worse, they’re not the best breeders in the animal kingdom, being very shy in personality.
So is it a problem that us humans are now using the panda’s food source of bamboo to make fabric fibers? Not at all!
For starters, there are about 1000 bamboo species and pandas eat about 30 of the different varieties of bamboo. The bamboo we use to make fabrics is not the type that pandas eat.
Not only that, but bamboo is the fastest growing plant out there, and can grow back to fullness within 7 years, without having to replant. If you’ve ever planted a bamboo stalk, you’ll know how easily it spreads and begins to pop up everywhere! That’s why bamboo forests are a much better option for manufacturing things that we use as humans, such as furniture, paper, building supplies and even fabric!
The Chinese government and its Ministry of Forestry is very active in preserving the panda and tries very hard to help the animals escape their endangered status. Recently, in addition to the 40 panda reserves in China, a fifth breeding center for pandas was announced. It will help teach the pandas how to breed, since they’re not that good at it when left on their own. A panda mother takes two years to raise a cub before sending if off on it’s own so she can bear another. Research has also been in done in cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund (also known as the World Wide Fund For Nature, or WWF), which sent researchers to China to help develop a forest management plan that would limit the cutting down of non-reserve forests where pandas live.
According to an article published by Pennsylvania State University Research, the main threat to pandas is due to illegal logging and poaching in what the government has classified as natural reserves. In these reserves, no one is allowed to harm the wildlife, although some do anyway, despite the high risk to their liberty. The Chinese government has even sentenced first-time poachers to life in prison and even to death for killing a panda. However, the huge money (thousands of dollars) involved in the trade of panda pelts in other Asian countries and the difficulty of controlling hunters in thick forest makes poaching still a problem.
If you would like to help preserve the panda, visit the WWF site’s ‘How you can Help’ page where you can see a list of ways to donate, take action, and spread the word.
Facts about pandas:
Pandas need 4.9 square kilometers for their habitats, and often habitats of pandas overlap. They don’t like to go far from their home.
It is very rare to see a panda in the wild. They are very shy and live like hermits. Scientists aren’t sure how many pandas there are in the wild, but they estimate it to be somewhere between 1500 and 3000. Pandas can, however, be seen in zoos and breeding reserves where humans work with them.
In time, there has been confusion about whether or not the panda is a bear or a raccoon, because it shares characteristics of both. However, scientists believe it is in fact a bear.
In the 1970s, pandas as loans were used by the Chinese to form relationships with outside countries, namely America and Japan. Today, pandas are given on 10-year “rentals” to American zoos for a yearly fee (sometimes $1 million) and half of that fee goes into conservation efforts in China.
The panda cub is only 1/900 of its mother’s weight, ranging between 90 to 130 grams and is about the size of a stick of butter!
A baby panda can start eating bamboo after 6 months.
A female panda can only mate once a year, but takes one and half years to raise a cub, and can only raise one cub at a time.
In 2009 the first baby panda was born after being conceived by artificial insemination. Overall, scientists believe that the conservation efforts on pandas is working, but do not have enough conclusive information to remove the ‘endangered’ label. Still, the efforts have increased wild pandas by 40 per cent since the 1980s.
A panda weighs between 100 to 150 kilograms and can grow up to 150 centimeters.
Pandas have lived as their own species (apart from other types of bears) in China for over 3 million years. For that reason they are sometimes called the “living fossil.”
Pandas live for up to 20 years in the wild and 30 years in captivity.