Giant pandas are no longer endangered

Pandas mark trees with a waxy substance secreted by glands under their tails. This serves them to communicate and find partners. But when takins rub against these trees to relieve the itch, they are more likely to eliminate or reduce the smell left behind by the pandas.

Researchers don’t yet have conclusive data on how forest change affects wild pandas, but a long-term study in Tangjiahe should provide more answers.

According to Fang Wang, Chinese boars (Sus scrofa moupinensis) could potentially create more problems for pandas. Both species are protected in China. There are no official population estimates for wild boars, but they appear to outnumber takins, occupy a larger area, and have a much greater impact on the environment.

Each spring, young bamboo shoots provide pandas with valuable protein and nutrients, especially for pregnant or lactating females. But wild boars also love young, and studies show that pandas avoid feeding in areas populated by wild boars. In fact, we found that the number of pandas increased when there were few wild boars nearby.

In addition, wild boars carry diseases such as plague and swine flu, which they can transmit to other species. “These viruses will most certainly infect pandas,” Fang Wang said.

As the boars search for food, they devastate the villagers’ crops, which Fang Wang says could reduce support for wildlife conservation efforts in areas where pandas live.

Giant pandas have very few natural predators, and in the past, snow leopards, wolves, and wolves have prevented takins and wild boars from breeding too much. But according to a 2020 study by William McShea, a wildlife ecologist at the Smithsonian Institution for Conservation Biology in Front Royal, Virginia, these apex predators have all but disappeared. Most have died out due to poaching and habitat loss, warns a man who has worked in China for more than twenty years and advocates “the return of these predators.”

Fan Wang adds that wildlife doesn’t have enough data on either takins or wild boars to implement plans that would balance their numbers and needs with these pandas.

The Sichuan Forestry and Grassland Administration, an agency that oversees wildlife and habitat conservation, did not respond to inquiries from National Geography.

“A BETTER FUTURE FOR PANDAS”

Long time at 20and centuries, panda skins are sold on the black market at exorbitant prices: up to 85,000 euros. In his book titled The last panda published in 1994, naturalist George Schaller described the panda as a species overwhelmed by poaching, habitat loss, and poor management of its populations. At the time, he predicted that “poachers will wipe out pandas long before inbreeding becomes a problem. »

Today, poaching is rare, but logging continues to occur both inside and outside reserves. George Schaller, now in his late 90s, says he is much more optimistic. If he were to write a new book, “it would be about a positive future for pandas. »

A network of panda rangers has helped reverse their decline: in Sichuan, home of most wild pandas, at least 4,000 rangers patrol 166 reserves. “Rangers act as a buffer between the law and traditional practice,” says Fan Wang.

They also help conservationists and biologists by recovering important information about animals. Rangers usually live in nature reserves and roam their bamboo forests for weeks repairing camera traps and recording wildlife behavior. The data they collect is used to inform China’s official panda census (the next census will be held in 2022) and to shape conservation efforts and strategies.

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