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File:Giant Panda 2004-03-2.jpg
is a mammal native to central-western and south western China. The Giant Panda is a member of the Ursidae (bear) family. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though belonging to the order Carnivora, the Giant Panda has a diet which is 99% bamboo. The Giant Panda may eat other foods such as honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, and bananas when available.
The Giant Panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan, but also in the Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Due to farming, forest clearing, and other development, the Giant Panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived.
The Giant Panda is a conservation reliant endangered species. According to the latest report, China has 239 Giant Pandas in captivity and another 27 living outside the country. It also estimated that around 1,590 pandas are currently living in the wild. However, a 2006 study, via DNA analysis, estimated that there might be as many as 2,000 to 3,000 Giant Pandas in the wild. Though reports show that the numbers of wild pandas are on the rise, the International Union for Conservation of Nature believes there is not enough certainty to remove the Giant Panda from the endangered animal list.
Why are Pandas endangered?
Pandas are dying out mainly because of one main reason: habitat loss. Their main source of food is bamboo, which takes a long time to grow. This problem wasn't present when pandas were spread throughout the massive south-east of Asia, including China. Hence, when a forest of bamboo was being consumed by them, they could simply move to another bamboo forest, but the supply grew harder to find or reach.
Industrialization needs people to clear off these ranges or lands for factories and agriculture. Hence, bamboo forests in Asia started a to decline tremendously. Wild pandas have been reported to die because of starvation simply becuase they cannot reach the next bamboo forest in time.
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Pandas, too, are picky regarding their mate. But an even larger problem than the male panda's selectiveness is, females are only fertile in the reproductive cycle or mating period for about 5 days. It means that the chances of pandas mating succesfully are slim. What's more, there are a lot less pandas surviving in the world.
Pandas are endangered because they are getting hunted by people who are killing off these animals without knowing that they are endangered and have no concerns, or cares towards the balance and well-being of the eco-system.
Additional Info: The Panda is a specialized species and that creates a level of strain that is sensitive to any outside pressures and can quickly endanger the species continued survival. The panda's requirments are very restrictive, for example their diet; they really only eat bamboo, and in such quantities that it requires large bamboo forests, with dense undergrowth to support them. They can now only be found in south-china. The "specialists" of the animal kingdom are in a way "pre-disposed" toward endangerment, and need to be watched or monitored closely when they come into contact.
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