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The Giant Panda; Live or let Die

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H Kermack

on 6 February 2014

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Transcript of The Giant Panda; Live or let Die

The importance of the Panda to China
© warpflare.com
© www.the-gallery-of-china.com
The Giant Panda; Poster Boy of Conservation
Conservation efforts
Future Plans

The panda is
and a
stimulated ovulator
Peak female receptivity: 2-7 days
The gestation period varyies from
days due to

of the
altricial neonate
are vulnerable to thermal stress and predation

Enhance scientific research on the Giant Panda- plans were put in place to be able to look more into captive breeding, reintroducing Pandas to the wild and ability to monitor populations to assess any trends
To set up 34 management stations- to create awareness of the reserves and to help people become less dependent on the forest products
Create 14 new Panda reserves- 11 in Sichuan, 2 in Shannxi and 1 in Ganu
To make better the 13 existing Panda reserves. In 1998 logging ban was put in place
Create 17 corridors to link isolated Panda population- to allow out-breeding of the Pandas in order to maintain genetic diversity. Dimensions should be 0.5km wide
1993 China's National Conservation Project for the Giant Panda and its Habitat
Project prepared by WWF and Ministry of Forestry (China)
WWF definition of flagship species:
An iconic animal that provides a focus for raising awareness, stimulates action and helps funding for broader conservation efforts
How the Panda fits into this description-
Striking coat colour and unique features
loved by many people in the world
It has an important role in the wild, maintaining bamboo forests by spreading the seeds to allow more bamboo to grow.
Panda conservation has a great impact on its habitat and the creatures that live in it. As well as the people that live in that area.

But how successful was this project....?
© Hannah Thomson
Wolong nature reserve ...
How does the physiological make-up of the Giant Panda impact its survival in its habitat?

Beneficial Adaptations
Evolutionary Disadvantages
Digestive Tract
Pandas have a digestive tract similar to carnivores;
simple stomach
short intestines

Digestion of Bamboo:
of the bamboo consumed is digested - mostly cell content and not structural carbohydrates
The Giant Panda is
poorly adapted to this low nutrient diet
and compensates for this inadequacy by contributing most of its time to assimilation of food.

Lack of adaptations to suit habitat
Live or Let Die?
The Giant Panda:
Human expansion
& Poaching
Cong L., Bihu W., Morrison A. M., Hua S. and Wang M. (2014) Analysis of wildlife tourism experiences with endangered species: An exploratory study of encounters with giant pandas in Chengdu. China Tourism management, 40 300-310

Edinburgh Zoo (Date Unknown) ‘Edinburgh Zoo’s Giant Pandas’. Available at: http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/export/sites/default/downloads/Giant_Panda_Fact_Sheet_2.pdf [Accessed 19 January 2014]

IUCN (2013) ‘IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Ailuropoda melanoleuca’ Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/712/0 [Accessed: 19 January 2014]

Liu J., Ouyang Z., Taylor W. M., Groop R., Tan Y and Zhang H. (1999) A frame work for evaluating effects of human factors on wildlife habitat: the case of Giant Pandas. Conservation biology, 13(6) 1360-1370

Niea Y., et al. (2012) Giant panda scent-marking strategies in the wild: role of season, sex and marking surface. Animal Behaviour, 84(1) 39-44

Pandas International (2013) Available at: http://www.pandasinternational.org, [Accessed on: 22 January 2014]

Panda Trust (2001) Available at: http://www.panda-trust.org.uk/about.html, [Accessed 22 Juanuary 2014]

Pearson Education Ltd (2012) ‘Giant pandas: the species-based approach to conservation’. Available at: http://www.contentextra.com/bacconline/bacContentFiles/essFiles/MonthlyUpdates/pdfs/ESSworksheetFebruary2012.pdf [Accessed 13 January 2014]

Reid D. G., Gong J. (date unknown) Chapter 13: ‘Giant Panda Conservation Action Plan’. Available at: http://wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/000ADOBES/Bears/Bears_IUCN_ActionPlan/bearsAP_chapter13.pdf [Accessed 13 January 2014]

RZSS (date unknown) ‘China/UK Giant Panda Partnership’. Available at: http://www.rzsspanda.org.uk/chinauk-giant-panda-partnership [Accessed 19 January 2014]

Seidensticker J., Eisenberg J. F. and Simmons R (1984) The Tangjiahe, Wanglang, and Fengtongzhai giant panda reserves and biological conservation in the people's Republic of China. Biological Conservation, 28 217-251

Severin Carrell of The Guardian (2013) ‘Edinburgh's pandas: a baby may not set the turnstiles spinning’. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/scotland-blog/2013/sep/02/scotland-edinburgh-pandas-visitors [Accessed 19 January 2014]

UPI (2012) ‘Human Impact On The Giant Pandas Studied’. Avaialble at: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2012/12/17/Human-impact-on-giant-pandas-studied/UPI-64161355783331 [Accessed December 2013]

Wei F., et al. (2004) Balancing Panda and Human Needs for Bamboo Shoots in Mabian Nature Reserve, China. In: Lindburg D. G., Baragona K. Giant Pandas: Biology and Conservation. University of California Press, Los Angeles pp 201

Wei F, et al. (2012) Black and white and read all over: the past, present and future of giant panda genetics. Molecular Ecology, 21 5660–5674

WWF (date unknown) ‘Impact of Habitat Loss on Species’. Avaiable at: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/species/problems/habitat_loss_degradation [Accessed December 2013]

Zhang Z., Swaisgood R., Wu H., Li M., Yong Y., Hu J., Wei F. (2007) Factors predicting den use by maternal giant pandas. Journal of Wildlife Management, 70 2694–2698
Conservation so far has been successful and is also benefiting other species and habitat
They are an important income to China
Giant Pandas are arguably poorly adapted to their environment however we still think that we should fight to save them:

Human Interference
The diet of the Panda is
99% bamboo
(1% = other vegetation, meat & eggs). The dietary switch to bamboo occurred ~4.2 million years ago and may have had
Mutation of the T1R1 gene -->
taste perception
Deletion mutation catecholomethyltransferase (COMT) gene --> incompetent
dopamine metabolic system

- modified carpal bone
- Aids the gripping of bamboo stems
- Molars have a wide, flat crown that is heavily cusped
- Aids mastication of bamboo diet
- Pandas are able to digest some hemicellulose and cellulose
- Dependent on gastrointestinal

(c) www.defenders.org
Pandas do not have specialised defense mechanisms/tactics
and can only climb trees to escape danger.
Pandas cannot evade danger in a bamboo forest where there are no trees to climb --> suboptimal habitat
Panda Communication

Some vocalisation, but mainly through
scent marking
• Occurs in all seasons
• Requires
suitable trees

in habitat
• Big,

rough bark



to bind scent
• Males - do handstands against trees to spray urine to attract females

: To mark
boundaries (anal gland secretion) and

reproductive state


Live at altitude of

1,200 - 4,100

above sea level
Prefer flat areas

or gentle slopes for ease of movement.

Descend to lower altitude in winter.

: Isolated to

high ridges



as a result of
human interference to the habitat

55% of time

eating =
10-18 kg /day

Seasonal feeding and migration -
bamboo leaves



(drink less water),



downslope in May

(no scent marking July and Aug) and


when becomes stemmy

Lack of nutritive food means the

Panda cannot afford to hibernate


making it vulnerable to disease.
Bamboo flowering and dieback naturally occurs every

15 - 120 years
Pandas would

naturally migrate

or feed on less-favoured species of bamboo, although
human interference prevents this.


increases survival rate.



mixed conifer/broadleaf

forests provide most suitable cover and promote bamboo growth.


in hollow trees, crevices and caves
• Females - need suitable maternity dens -

hollow conifer tree
to leave cubs unsupervised for short periods in first 6 weeks (
thermal stress or predation risk
). Only found in

mature forest (not clearcut)

Social Behaviour
Giant Pandas are
unless breeding or with cub
Breeding season:
March - May
(may return to oestrus Sept – Oct or Jan – Feb)
Females don't mate again until

2 years after birth of cub

August – September
Totally dependent on mother until
5-6 months old
Stay and learn with mother until
18 months old
Sexual maturity
4.5 years
Are Giant Pandas dying out as a result of human interference....Are we obliged to save them?

The Giant Panda is found in south central China.

They are currently found on 6 isolated mountain ranges, separated by human activities (agriculture and logging)

How has the Giant Panda evolved to survive in such a harsh environment?

From Our Research...
Copyright google images
(c) google images
Copyright M. Ellis
(C) http://e08595.medialib.glogster.com/media/98/982b8fc315badae7a4aa7767fb249da96bea09e029d944a8aae865683ba525d1/map-jpg.jpg
(C) Google images
Wolong Nature Reserve

110 Giant pandas (approx. 10% total population) live in Wolong Nature Reserve

A study was carried out looking into the effects of human interference on the Giant panda’s habitat

Findings: Human population increase, timber and fuel wood collection caused large negative effects on the panda’s habitat.

Timber harvesting and fuel wood

Fuel wood consumption has doubled over the past two decades

It takes 80years for a harvested area to recover enough to be suitable for panda habitation. Harvesting also affects adjacent forests in a 60m region.

Eliminating fuel consumption in 5years would save 3728ha of Giant Panda habitat.

Human population size

Since 1975, the human population in the reserve has increased by 66.41%

Future: Human population increase by 38%
Giant Panda population decrease by 37%

If 22% of young people of the reserve left, it would lower the population on the reserve by 82% by year 2047. Lowering the population size and reducing the human effects on the pandas habitat.

Conclusion from study

“With human influences considered, the giant pandas habitat shrank significantly, became highly fragmented and the quality of the panda habitat in many areas degraded.”

“…reducing human population and fuel wood collection would restore some of the previously lost or degraded panda habitat on the reserve.”

Helen Kermack, Sophie Boyd, Hannah Thomson, Holly Ibbotson, Megan Ellis, Monique Yntema
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