Giant panda in top shape but threatened by climate change

According to Florian Kirchner of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the giant panda has “recovered but has not come out of the forest” due to global warming, which threatens its habitat and food. a few days before the birth of two panda cubs in France.

QUESTION: Are giant pandas still endangered?

ANSWER: “They are still on the IUCN Global Red List of Threatened Species, which lists all threatened species divided into three categories: Vulnerable, Critically Endangered and Critically Endangered. disappearance.”

In 2016, the panda moved one step away from extinction, moving from the +endangered+ category, in which it has been for a very long time, to +vulnerable+. This means that it is still under threat, but is on a positive slope, its conservation status is improving due to the efforts made by the Chinese authorities.

The panda was never in +critical danger+, but always +disappeared+. There have been serious concerns as its population has been declining since the 1990s.

The fourth national census (conducted by the Chinese authorities from 2011 to 2014) showed that there were 1,864 giant pandas in the wild. According to the results of the previous census, conducted from 2000 to 2004, the population was estimated at 1596 people. In 1988, according to the 1985-1988 census. there were 1216 people.

The panda population is extremely fragmented: there are 33 subpopulations in China, including 18 very small ones with fewer than ten individuals. This is a factor of great fragility.

In addition to these 1864 pandas, 400 are in captivity in China and about 40 abroad.”

Question: What are the main threats?

Answer: “In 1986, when the panda was first listed on the IUCN Red List, it was in decline.

There were two main threats: destruction and fragmentation of its natural habitat due to deforestation for urbanization, expansion of agricultural land, livestock and second, less important, poaching, especially due to its fur.

One could almost say that these threats no longer exist.

Poaching because panda reserves are closely monitored and fines are severe.

As for the reduction of its range, there are still problems, but the Chinese government has created extensive reserves and reforestation is proceeding rather.

The threat we fear now is climate change.

It is estimated that climate change could destroy over 35% of bamboo forests in the next 80 years.

Other species are adaptable, can live in many environments, eat different things. It focuses on bamboo.

So if the bamboo regresses, the panda regresses with it. In this century, this trend (to improve its conservation status) can very easily be reversed.

There are other threats, such as the possibility of disease, that affect such a small population.”

Q: Why is it important to protect pandas?

A: “Some species, such as the polar bear, tiger, red panda, giant panda, evoke sympathy and attract a lot of public attention. They are emblems, ambassadors for all other species, thousands of endangered species.

5241 species are known to be endangered.

Moreover, the panda is an “umbrella” species, that is, its protection leads to the protection of many other species that we do not care about at all, which do not attract public attention.

Protecting the panda means protecting all the fauna and flora that live in bamboo forests.”

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