Well many factors are contributing to the pandas’ extinction, mainly habitat loss and and low birthrates.
Panda’s habitats keep getting smaller, and being broken up. This prevents the pandas from being able to wander far to find partners to mate with and also increases inbreeding, which decreases immunity and weakens the gene pool of pandas.
In addition to habitat fragmentation due to China’s growing economy promoting road and railroad construction, poaching is a serious threat to their population numbers. The Chinese government has recognized the threats to their numbers, however, and have taken steps to help protect this fascinating animal, creating over 50 panda reserves that cover more than 2.5 million acres of land. It is estimated that these reserves protect over 60 percent of the wild panda population. Pandas are also strictly protected by the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and it is strictly forbidden to trade the species or any byproduct from it (pelts, etc.). Although these steps are significant, it is still a struggle to protect the panda and help it recover from it’s suppressed population numbers because of the struggle between economic development and species conservation.
Habitat fragmentation is especially devastating for the panda because of its unusual diet of bamboo. In addition to being nutrient-poor, bamboo grows in long-term cycles of flowering and mass die-offs. Every 15 to 100 years all the bamboo in a particular area will flower and then die in just one season. In the past when this happened, the pandas could just travel to a different area and eat other bamboo. But because their habitats are now divided by roads, farms, and cities, they become trapped in the barren areas and starve to death.
Citation: Essentials of Conservation Biology, 2010 (5th ed). Pg 317.
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