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.
I actually find it surprising that pandas haven't shown the preference or for that matter, the ability, to eat meat earlier. It is a well known fact that many species of bear are omnivores, which could very well stand true for pandas, which now it seems to have. The only exception to this, are polar bears who are entirely carnivorous, due to an obvious lack of vegetation in their geographic region. It will be interesting to see if pandas resort to more carnivorous activities as their habitat dwindles, however sad that is.ReplyDelete
- Jeff Keating (2)
Pandas eat meat?! Wow, i didn't see that one coming. I wonder why their digestive system evolved to digest meat if they mainly eat bamboo. Just like another blog, the endangered tiger, we see the problem of deforestation. Wildlife conservationists and scientists need to get together and come up with a solution for the destruction of habitats because i'm sure it's not just tigers and pandas that are being harmed.Delete
Posted by: Jen Silva(3)
I actually found it interesting that they are artificially inseminating pandas! I had no idea that pandas only reproduced once a year, and more shockingly, that their window for ovulation is only a few days out of that year. That means that not only is population decline due to habitat loss affecting their numbers, but so is their inability to reproduce at a high enough rate to make up for it. I wonder though, to what extent does artificial insemination effect their evolution and natural selection? In a way, we're choosing their mates and the genetics that are passed on. By effecting their evolution this way, are we doing more harm than good?ReplyDelete
Posted by Laura Moro (2)
Pandas are such lovable creatures. We defiantly need to protect them. If they are snacking on some ribs then good for them. A diet of only vegetables just doesn't seem fitting of a bear. Maybe more meat in their diet could increase their survival rate.ReplyDelete
posted by Dorian Pillari (c)
I personally feel like that once what is supposed to be a wild animal requires artificial insemination, that's a bit of a hint from mother nature that their time may have come. As cute as they are, if they are unable to sexually reproduce on their own, it seems like they are unfit organisms that should by all means die out if humans were not so invested in saving them.ReplyDelete
I actually feel that all species should have the right to live and we should do all we can to protect them, and not just the pandas. The thing is, the reason why pandas requires artificial insemination is not because they're unable to reproduce on their own or that it's caused by any natural factors, but it's because of what we've done. we've hunted them and destroyed their environment that they're population has suffered because of it. Now, it is our responsibility to rapidly bring the population size back up to a healthy range, and this can only be done through artificial insemination, since natural reproduction would take a longer time to hit that range.Delete
I completely agree with that last statement. In a previous post about endangered tigers, I stated that species come and go and that is how evolution works. Pandas once were able to survive on their own without artificial insemination. Are we going to start doing that for every animal that doesn't reproduce often? With a situation like that, I believe we should let nature take its course.ReplyDelete
I understand your point. But in this present time, we're causing so much destruction to nature that many species would be extinct or endangered, had it not been for conservation efforts. If we continue to take this attitude and just let evolution take its course, we might see a lot of species go extinct. because what evolution is is species evolving from environment factors, and this takes a really long time as well. But what we're doing right now is just killing them off by destroying their habitats and hunting them down, and not giving them a chance to evolve at all.Delete
I agree with the last two comments. What is the point of continuing the panda population? They're really cute and all but it's clear that we aren't going to be able to bring them back up to a dominant specie. They've been pretty thoroughly Darwin-ed out of the animal kingdom and if that's what happened then so be it. They're an evolutionary dead end, and they aren't holding up the food web or ecology or anything since there are so few of them. Keeping them around is an interesting experiment for zoos and science and whatnot but other than that it just doesn't seem to matter.ReplyDelete
Mike Selden (C)
I feel that it's not for us to decide which species gets to live on this earth. We didn't create them so we have no right to kill them off. Yes, we might not be able to see any benefits in helping to maintain this species right now, but we do not know what positive effects they bring to their ecosystem. It is only when it's gone do we know what we have lost. Plus, we are the ones responsible for their population decline.Delete
Pandas are just adapting to their changing habitats. Life will do whatever it takes to survive, and changing from a heavy bamboo diet to possibly meat it's that big of a shift when you factor in survival. If pandas don't try to supplement their deplete-ling resources of food, they'll most likely suffer even more declining numbers. It's survival of the fittest, because life will always find a way.ReplyDelete
Posted By Andy Zou