The panda, panda bear or also called giant panda ( Ailuropoda melanoleuca ) is a mammal that belongs to the order of carnivores. However, its taxonomy causes some discussion since its diet is mostly herbivorous: although it can eat insects, eggs or small mammals occasionally, its main food is bamboo canes.
One of the little-known curiosities of the panda bear is that its name in Chinese means “big cat bear”. This is because the panda, unlike other bears, has vertical pupils that resemble those of cats. If you are interested in learning more about this emblematic animal, continue reading this article because, from EcologíaVerde, we will delve into the habitat of the panda bear and its characteristics.
Where do pandas live
Before starting with the characteristics of the panda’s habitat, it is necessary to locate ourselves geographically, so here we will tell you its distribution.
Thanks to the discovery of fossil records, it was shown that the distribution of the panda spanned Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, China and Beijing. However, today their populations are only found on the mountain ranges present in the south west of China .
It is widely known that the panda’s habitat type is terrestrial , but within all possible terrestrial habitats , the panda inhabits temperate forests in height .
As for the temperature of the panda’s habitat, it is temperate of the humid subtropical type . This temperature is fundamental for the existence of the panda bear, in principle because it allows the development of more than 30 species of bamboo, which is its main food, and, secondly, because it has allowed the panda not to hibernate, unlike from the other hibernating bears .
As we have mentioned before, the panda’s diet is based on bamboo. In fact, this plant species is so important in the diet of pandas that a single specimen can eat between 12 and 38 kg of bamboo per day . Undoubtedly, bamboo is a basic need for pandas since the survival of this animal depends on it.
Another essential need for the panda is temperate habitat . The truth is that pandas babies are born with very low weight and with a light coat. Therefore, warm temperatures are essential for the survival and growth of newborns. Even if temperatures drop, pandas descend to lower altitudes in search of warmer temperatures.
Believe the opposite, fortunately, pandas are no longer in danger of extinction . However, they are listed, according to the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature , as a species vulnerable to extinction . This means that although their populations are not exactly in danger, they are threatened, therefore strategies and conservation efforts of the species are required to prevent it from becoming extinct in the future.
The panda bear is a flagship species, that is, it is a species that is iconic and that attracts the attention of the general public. Precisely because of its appearance and charisma that so attract everyone’s attention, large sums of money have been invested for its conservation and numerous works have also been carried out to ensure its future existence. That is why today the panda bear has managed to stop being in danger of extinction. Also, due to the great attraction generated by pandas, there are several specimens scattered in zoos around the world. While zoos are controversial, their existence allows a genetic reservoir for the panda bear that can be used to reintroduce the species into the wild. However, the reproduction of the panda in captivity it constitutes a severe limitation when it comes to thinking about reintroduction plans.
On the other hand, not all panda conservation efforts come from zoos. The Chinese government, in conjunction with various organizations, has designed a conservation program for the giant panda and its habitat . Thanks to this program, 67 natural panda reserves and as many ecological corridors were created that, as a result, protect almost two-thirds of wild panda populations.
Finally, the main threats to which the panda is vulnerable are poaching and habitat loss and, unfortunately, these threats are still in force. Most of the wild populations of pandas are found in the Yangtze River basin in China, a highly urbanized and productive and economically active region. The roads, paths and infrastructures that enable these activities ultimately led to the loss and fragmentation of the panda’s habitat. In addition, these roads facilitated access to places that were previously inaccessible to poachers.