How many are left in the wild?

Panda population in the wild

The latest census in 2014 found that there were 1,864 giant 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. By 2004, the number had risen to around 1,600.
 / ©: / Edwin Giesbers / WWF
© / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

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. 
 / ©: Jiang Zhongjun
Panda’s feces found in Longxi-Hongkou survey.
© Jiang Zhongjun

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