Giant Panda

Facts

Despite their exalted status and relative lack of natural predators, pandas are still at risk. Severe threats from humans have left just over 1,800 pandas in the wild.

  • Status
    Vulnerable
  • Population
    1,864 in the wild
  • Scientific Name
    Ailuropoda melanoleuca
  • Height
    Adults can grow to more than four feet.
  • Weight
    220–330 pounds
  • Habitats
    Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests of southwest China

Map data provided by IUCN

The panda, with its distinctive black and white coat, is adored by the world and considered a national treasure in China. This bear also has a special significance for WWF because it has been our logo since our founding in 1961.

Pandas live mainly in temperate forests high in the mountains of southwest China, where they subsist almost entirely on bamboo. They must eat around 26 to 84 pounds of it every day, depending on what part of the bamboo they are eating. They use their enlarged wrist bones that function as opposable thumbs.

A newborn panda is about the size of a stick of butter—about 1/900th the size of its mother—but females can grow up to about 200 pounds, while males can grow up to about 300 pounds as adults. These bears are excellent tree climbers despite their bulk.

Wild pandas get a boost

Wild panda numbers are finally rebounding after years of decline. In September, the International Union for Conservation of Nature announced that pandas have been upgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable.”
Born in China Panda Spring 2017 Mag

Why They Matter

  • Crucial Role in Forests

    The biological diversity of the panda’s habitat is unparalleled in the temperate world and rivals that of tropical ecosystems, making the giant panda an excellent example of an umbrella species conferring protection on many other species where pandas live. In other words, when we protect pandas, we invariably protect other animals that live around them, such as multicolored pheasants, the golden monkey, takin, and crested ibis. Pandas also bring sustainable economic benefits to many local communities through ecotourism.

Threats

  • Population 1,864 in the wild
  • Extinction Risk Vulnerable
    1. EX
      Extinct

      No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died

    2. EW
      Extinct in the Wild

      Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population

    3. CR
      Critically Endangered

      Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the Wild

    4. EN
      Endangered

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    5. VU
      Vulnerable

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    6. NT
      Near Threatened

      Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

    7. LC
      Least Concern

      Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened

Hunting

Although poaching impacted pandas in the past, its impact declined since the enactment of the Wildlife Protection Act (1988), which bans poaching and carries severe punishments. However, pandas may get caught accidentally in snares set for musk deer or other species.

Habitat Loss

China’s Yangtze Basin region holds the panda’s primary habitat. Infrastructure development (such as dams, roads, and railways) is increasingly fragmenting and isolating panda populations, preventing pandas from finding new bamboo forests and potential mates. 

Forest loss also reduces pandas’ access to the bamboo they need to survive. The Chinese government has established more than 50 panda reserves, but only around 67% of the total wild panda population lives in reserves, with 54% of the total habitat area being protected.

What WWF Is Doing

Giant pandas

WWF was the first international conservation organization to work in China at the Chinese government's invitation. Our main role in China is to assist and influence policy-level conservation decisions through information collection, demonstration of conservation approaches, communications, and equipping people with the tools and knowledge they need to protect pandas and their habitat.

Protecting Giant Pandas

We work towards and advocate for

  • increasing the area of panda habitat under legal protection
  • creating green corridors to link isolated pandas
  • patrolling against poaching, illegal logging, and encroachment
  • building local capacities for nature reserve management
  • continuing research and monitoring

WWF has been working with the Chinese government’s National Conservation Program for the giant panda and its habitat. Thanks to this program, panda reserves now cover more than 3.8 million acres of forest.

The WWF Logo

Evolution of the WWF logo

Evolution of the WWF Logo

The inspiration for the WWF logo came from Chi-Chi, a giant panda that was living at the London Zoo in 1961, the same year WWF was created. WWF’s founders were aware of the need for a strong, recognizable symbol that would overcome all language barriers. They agreed that the big, furry animal with her appealing, black-patched eyes would make an excellent choice.

The first panda sketches were done by the British environmentalist and artist Gerald Watterson. Based on these, Sir Peter Scott, one of WWF’s founders and a world-renowned conservationist and painter, drew the first logo.

The design of the logo has evolved over the past four decades, but the giant panda’s distinctive features remain an integral part of WWF’s treasured and unmistakable symbol. Today, WWF’s trademark is recognized as a universal symbol for the conservation movement.

Projects

  • Photos from Camera Traps in China

    Camera traps are not the intricate and elaborate devices you might imagine. These innovative conservation tools are in fact nothing more than everyday cameras, armed with infrared sensors that take a picture whenever they sense movement in the forest.

Experts

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