• How Have Pandas Been Conserved and Monitored?

Portable/Field Testing

How Have Pandas Been Conserved and Monitored?

Sep 10 2016

Great news – pandas have been removed from the list of endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). After decades of depleted population, there has been a boost in reproduction by pandas and now the IUCN has changed their status to ‘vulnerable’ – the least severe of the ‘threatened’ categories. The IUCN have praised the Chinese government, who made particular efforts to conserve their native species. How? Read on to find out.

Endangered species

Aside from their infrequent reproduction, how did pandas become endangered? Poaching is an obvious issue, but also a big part of the problem is habitat. When developing land for farming or construction, considerable chunks of the pandas’ habitat is destroyed. This is a problem on its own, but it also has some indirect effects.

Pandas have a diet of bamboo, and so this habitat destruction leads sustenance destruction too. Different varieties of bamboo grow at different times of the year. Pushing the pandas into a smaller environment, by taking a chunk of their habitat, can remove one type of bamboo and leave the pandas without food for part of the year. These factors led to a population of just 1,000 pandas in the wild during the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Conservation efforts

The Chinese government tackled the poaching problem in the 1990s, by increasing gun control and removing human residents from the panda habitat. The habitat has expanded too, with a huge increase in the number of panda reserves. There are now around 40 panda reserves in total – up from 13 when efforts began. Built in corridors protect the important bamboo food source.

Another important part of conservation is monitoring. But how do you keep track of the numbers? The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) list ‘camera traps’ as one method of monitoring. With movement sensors, the cameras pick up the pandas’ activity in their natural habitat. As well as producing incredible, unique images and videos, this gives conservationists vital information about how pandas live naturally and the current threats.

Landscape disturbance

The extraction of non-renewable energy is something that gains a lot of bad press for its consequent destruction of habitat. Not many people realise that green energy production projects also contribute to the disturbance and fragmentation of natural habitat. While they are praised for their reduction of emissions and unlimited renewable resources, they can also disturb the habitat of wildlife much like the production of energy from fossil fuels. Find out more about the ‘disturbance footprint’ of alternative energy sources in ‘Assessing Landscape Disturbance and the Ecological Situation of Energy Development in the US and Russia’.

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