Cute, cuddly, and furry. It’s endangered and has done kung fu on the silver screen recently. What am I talking about? Pandas of course! These adorable creatures which spend their time laying around and gnawing on bamboo shoots, are the emblem of China. Due to deforestation, pandas are considered a conservation reliant endangered species.
Recently, pandas have caused quite a stir in the science community. An article on the 28th of December 2011 from the DailyMail reported that these creatures eat meat! Is this one of the biggest deceptions in history? Has the entire species of Pandas decided to fool us by gnawing on bamboos during the day when we visit them at the zoo, only to pull out a whole rack of ribs from their hideout and snack on them at night? A wild panda was recently caught on camera eating a dead antelope around the region of Sichuan, China. But according to the WWF (world wildlife fund), pandas do in fact have a digestive system of a carnivore. (Further investigation shows that they belong to the order canivora.)Therefore, this shouldn't come as a surprise to us, even though bamboo is 99% of their diet. That said, they have evolved for millions of years from living in bamboo forests in order to be able to better digest the cellulose from bamboos. In order for them to stay healthy, they have to eat up to 14kg of bamboo daily, because bamboos hardly have any protein or energy in them. But, while this certainly satisfied panda might have been caught red pawed eating a dead antelope, it has been suggested that it may have just chanced upon it, instead of hunting and killing it.
Pandas, sadly, are an endangered species. However, efforts to increase its population are ongoing. Government officials have released 6 of 108 pandas in captivity into a controlled wilderness in the southwest province of Sichuan, which spans over 2,000 acres. These 108 pandas, bred through artificial insemination, were raised by the Chengdu Giant Panda Rehabilitation Project and they plan to slowly release these pandas back into their natural habitat in the next 50 years. Why, you might ask, must the Pandas be bred through artificial insemination? Well, the reason is because females ovulate just once yearly, and can only conceive during a period of two to three days.In conclusion, we should do more to help protect endangered species, such as the panda, and their habitat. Donating money to organizations that fight for this cause isn’t the only way. We can do our part in preventing these species from losing their habitat or even from being hunted or killed by reducing and recycling, avoid fur and leather products, stop littering in river or seas, and using or supporting a reduce in the usage of herbicides and pesticides.