- Panda conservation efforts are working!
Only about 1800 pandas survive in the wild, restricted to 20 isolated patches of bamboo forest in China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Complimenting these are about 400 captive pandas, born and bred in research centres around the world. The large majority were born in China, but Austria, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Thailand and USA have also managed to raise their own, from Chinese parents.
Although it’s always best to increase the number of animals in their natural habitat, captive breeding provides an insurance against the species going extinct in the wild. One day, individuals bred in these programmes may also be released into their natural habitats. In the meantime, the Chinese government is focusing on creating panda reserves and linking panda populations through ‘bamboo corridors’, which join otherwise isolated patches of forest, allowing pandas to move between them to find food and mates. Their work is paying off, as pandas were officially taken of the endangered list in 2016, and are now listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.