Should we save the Panda bears? Even though the numbers of Giant Pandas have declined to the point they are considered critically endangered, some have suggested that it is not worth the efforts to continue trying to revive the species. BBC naturalist, Chris Packham made this shocking statement to Radio Times Magazine:
“Here’s a species that, of its own accord, has gone down an evolutionary cul-de-sac. It’s not a strong species. Unfortunately it’s big and cute and it’s a symbol of the WWF, and we pour millions of pounds into panda conservation. I reckon we should pull the plug. Let them go, with a degree of dignity.”
Fortunately, not many people share this extreme viewpoint. Instead of just allowing the species become extinct, panda conservation efforts are in full force, and you can help!
Why not donate or “adopt” a panda at the WWF or Pandas International? Both sites raise money for Giant Panda conservation. You can also help raise awareness regarding this endangered species. The following ideas are from Pandas International:
- Spread the word: share your passion to save the pandas. Free postcards are available from Panda International
- Sponsor or adopt a Giant Panda
- Sign up for monthly donations to Pandas International, or another organization
- Consider a project, speech or sponsorship through your classroom, if you are a student
- At your next celebration (birthday, holidays, etc.), ask guests to make a donation to help the pandas, rather than bring a gift
- Purchase specially-marked panda items for gifts – a portion of the proceeds helps the panda bears
- Clean out your attic or basement and hold a garage sale with proceeds going to help the pandas.
- Start an environmental club to help the pandas at your school or office.
- Host a fundraising event- lemonade stand, bake sale, sponsor a bike race
- Join the Pennies 4 Pandas Project.
- Trick or Treat for pandas, asking for Pennies 4 Pandas instead of candy
Consider these facts about panda bears:
- It is difficult to breed pandas because they have a very small fertility window (5 days) and are picky about their mates.
- Chinese breeding programs for the Giant Panda use human fertility treatments.
- There are only about 1,600 Giant Pandas left in the wild.
- In addition, 200 Giant Pandas live in captivity.
- Tiny panda bear cubs are a mere 4-6 ounces at birth.
- Giant Pandas have a life span of about 25-30 years in captivity.
- Pandas are now a critically endangered species as a result of habitat loss, and fragmentation of bamboo forest “pockets” which makes it difficult for pandas to meet and reproduce.
- Humans are responsible for the decline in Giant Panda populations, from forest clearing to poaching to the exploding human population in China
We can address one of the biggest reasons that giant pandas are dying out: loss of habitat. Pandas rely on bamboo for their primary source of nourishment, and the plant is slow-growing. In their native lands of southeast Asia, large swaths of bamboo forests have been cleared as a result of industrialization. This drives the pandas farther away in search of food. Many die of starvation before they can get to the next forest.
Personally, I don’t think that just because something is difficult that it should not be undertaken. After all, the panda is not endangered as a result of natural selection. Its habitat has been diminished and fragmented by our own actions. Its the least we can do to change our ways and help preserve the Giant Panda.
What are you going to do to help save the panda bears?