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A Peek at Pandas in Their Remote Mountain Habitat

Panda photographed by a camera trap

Camera trap images from China show giant pandas in their remote mountain habitat as well as several other fascinating species—such as the Asiatic black bear, red panda and leopard cat—that share the iconic bear’s mountainous home.

Since 2011 more than 100 infra-red camera traps set up in six nature reserves captured these images. WWF works with partners from the local forestry authority in this monitoring effort under the giant panda conservation program.

The camera trap studies will now aid WWF’s conservation efforts through a better understanding of animal activities, the impact of human actions on the species, and management of nature reserves.

  • Camera trap panda

    Giant Panda

    WWF was the first conservation group invited into China to study the giant panda. It is believed that fewer than 1,600 giant pandas remain in the wild. WWF is supporting a new nationwide survey of giant pandas using sophisticated technology such as DNA studies that will help track pandas in their remote mountain habitat.

  • Red panda

    Red Panda

    Like the giant panda, the red panda feeds mostly on bamboo, though it looks more like a raccoon and is slightly larger than a domestic house cat. Red pandas spend most of their time in trees, making a healthy forest important for their survival.

  • Golden pheasant

    Golden Pheasant

    This pheasant is endemic to the temperate forests of the upper Yangtze Basin.

  • takin


    The takin is a goat-antelope with long golden hair that feeds on the plants and trees in the Qinling Mountains. However the forests of the Qinling Mountains are threatened by deforestation and the takin is still targeted by hunters in some areas.

  • Leopard in China

    Leopard Cat

    The leopard cat, which is about the size of a house cat, is found across southern and eastern China. This cat is heavily hunted and its population is declining across its range.

  • Tufted deer

    Tufted Deer

    Named after the black tuft of hair on its forehead, this shy and secretive deer inhabits the mountainous forests of China.

  • Giant Pandas in snow

    Giant Pandas

    Rapid population growth and aggressive exploitation of natural resources are shrinking what remains of the natural forests that once covered the region inhabited by giant pandas.

  • Temminck's Tragopan

    Temminck's Tragopan

    This beautifully colored pheasant is found in China’s evergreen forests.

  • Asiatic Black Bear

    Asiatic Black Bear

    The Asiatic Black Bear has a coat of smooth black fur with a “V” of white fur down the center of its chest. This bear is losing its habitat to deforestation and expansion of human settlements and roads. A target for poachers, the Asiatic Black Bear is now facing the new challenge of sharing habitat with advancing human settlements.

  • Sambar


    The sambar is a large deer that feeds on many different plants and even some that are poisonous to other animals. Sambar deer have a special organism in their digestive tracts that breaks down toxins.

“These images demonstrate that by saving the iconic giant panda, we secure a vibrant future for other incredible wildlife, wild places and people—it’s the best kind of win-win proposition”

Sybille Klenzendorf
Managing Director of WWF’s Species Conservation Program

Growing challenges

Many of the species in this study are found in the mountainous bamboo forests in the upper reach Yangtze River Basin in Southwest China. Spanning thousands of miles through the heart of China, this unique system of rivers, lakes, wetlands and mountain forests harbors rich biodiversity and wildlife. This fertile river basin also provides millions of people with food, shelter, freshwater and their livelihoods.

Rapid population growth and aggressive exploitation of natural resources is shrinking what remains of the natural forests that once covered the region. Infrastructure and agricultural development is leading to degradation of the forests and fragmentation of panda habitats.

Helping pandas and people

Today giant pandas are found in a patchwork of more than 60 nature reserves in China. WWF’s focus was solely on panda conservation when we began our work in China in 1981. Our approach evolved with decades of monitoring and research.

The giant panda has been a conservation priority for WWF since we were founded in 1961. WWF’s panda projects in China currently focus on:

  • Promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, including sustainable agriculture
  • Demonstrating innovative and effective approaches to forest conservation and wetlands restoration
  • Working with local communities as well as government on long-term environmental stewardship and alternative livelihoods such as promoting locally grown and globally marketed Sichuan pepper

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