The Giant Panda

Ailuropoda melanoleuca

We are the giant panda.

One of the most iconic species in the world.
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The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) uses a picture of us for their logo.
Our natural habitats are bamboo forests like these. Bamboo is our primary source of food.

The bacteria in our digestive systems helps us digest it.

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We like to live alone, we are randomly scattered across our habitats.
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We only meet for a few days a year during the annual mating season. We have a low fecundity representative of a Type I curve. A female panda typically gives birth to only one cub after 3-5 months of pregnancy.

The occasional twin and triplet cubs face intraspecific competition between each other as the mother only produces milk to raise one.

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Once we were here, further to the North, further to the South, and closer to the ocean. The most remote regions are all that we have now. Our population has heavily declined.

We are an endangered species.

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Our population is dependent on how much bamboo exists and how many species are available. Different bamboos grow during different times of the year.

Natural disasters are devastating no matter how many pandas exist. Especially when the bamboo is affected too.

Our predators consist mostly of jackals, snow leopards, and yellow throated martens. They are only a threat to us when we are young. Our size, paws and teeth are more than capable deterrents.

One predator however is one that cannot be eluded by age or size. Humans.

They poach us for our large and unique pelts, they hunt us to secure our bamboo, the desperate ones eat us.

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They have destroyed our habitats.
Without bamboo, where will we live and what will we eat? Without water, what will we drink?

We face interspecific competition as they destroy our forests to create villages, turn our bamboo into lumber, and take our water for themselves.

Similarly to a natural disaster, this is a threat to all pandas.

Something has changed however, some humans have taken it upon themselves to help us. To undo the damage that has been done.

Some of us live in zoos where we are showered with love and affection. They are the lucky few captured and imprisoned to mimic our old natural lifestyle.

Due to their efforts it is now illegal for us to be hunted. Over half of our habitats have been designated as protected reserves, bamboo forests are being replanted, and the villagers that once contested us for resources have developed sustainable methods of living that rely on less bamboo, or no bamboo at all.
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Our population has increased by 17% and our habitable range has increased by 13% since 2003. Our cubs face a brighter future where they will never see a human as an enemy.

These are significant results for a short period of time, especially when compared to other endangered or previous endangered species.

We are an endangered species and it will be many years before the damage is undone.

Hope was a foreign concept as humans were all that we saw.

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But now they are one and the same.