Factsheet: Giant Panda



Posted on 08 March 2006  | 
Peaceful and mostly vegetarian, giant pandas have steadily lost their forest habitat to China's expanding human population. These striking animals are now confined to fragmented forest patches high in the mountains of southwestern China. These same mountains form the watershed for China's Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, whose basins are the economic heart of China and home to over 500 million people.

As China's economy continues its rapid development, it is more important than ever to conserve the forest home of the giant panda - not just to safeguard this well-loved species, but to maintain the subsistence fisheries, agriculture, and water resources essential for nearly 40 per cent of China’s people.

WWF considers the giant panda as a 'flagship' species: that is, a charismatic representative of the biologically rich temperate forest it inhabits. By conserving the giant panda and its habitat, many other species will also be conserved - as will water resources that are essential for the future of hundreds of millions of people.

WWF has been active in giant panda conservation since 1980, and was the first international conservation organization to work in China at the Chinese government's invitation. Early work included the first-ever intensive field studies of wild panda ecology and behaviour.
Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca).
© WWF-Canon / Michel Gunther Enlarge

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