How many are left in the wild?

Panda population in the wild

By 2004, there were estimated to be 1,600 pandas alive in the wild.
How does this compare to past figures? In the first ever mass survey that took place between 1974-1977, the researchers estimated that there were around 1,000 -1,100 giant pandas in the wild. In the 2nd ever survey, done between 1985-1988, again, around 1,000 animals were thought to exist.
 / ©: naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF-Canon
© naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF-Canon
 

How do you count pandas?

Knowing how many pandas exist in the wild is not an easy task.

In fact, it requires a massive amount of effort and some not very pleasant activities...

Teams of volunteers trek out into steep, mountainous areas and look for signs of the panda. The thing they keep an eye out for: dung!

When they find it, they sift through the dung to pick out pieces of undigested bamboo. 

The way they identify individual pandas is from their bite marks on this undigested bamboo... which are all different (a bit like fingerprints).  

Remember that pandas are solitary and shy animals that usually roam remote and hard to reach areas in China's bamboo forests and mountains. Often, researchers have to walk for days and days, inspecting every meter of the forests for panda poop!

Each team of researchers is composed of about 40 people who are then divided into smaller sub-groups. A team can usually cover approximately 80 km2 each day. 

Why don't you have more recent panda population data?

Although the last full panda census was done in 2004, the giant panda's habitat is secure and even growing, with new reserves and "green corridors" being created. (Green corridors allow the pandas to move between each of the large reserves.)

All our studies indicate that the recovery of the species is steady, specially  thanks to the work of the Chinese government, local communities and WWF staff.

Virtual Gifts

Virtual Gifts / ©: WWF

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