/ ©: George B. Schaller / WWF

Habitat of the Panda

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 / ©: naturepl.com / Eric Baccega / WWF
Clic to discover the results of the last panda survey in China
© naturepl.com / Eric Baccega / WWF

A shrinking refuge

The giant panda was once widespread throughout southern and eastern China, as well as neighbouring Myanmar and northern Vietnam.
But due to expanding human populations and development, the species is now restricted to around 20 isolated patches of bamboo forest in six mountain ranges in China's Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

Most of the remaining wild pandas live in the Minshan and Qinling mountains. And it is here that WWF has focussed its giant panda conservation work, supporting the Chinese government's efforts to conserve the species.

Since habitat loss is the most serious threat to the panda, establishing new reserves and extending existing ones are crucial to its survival.

After a significant increase in recent years, China now boasts a network of 67 panda reserves, which safeguard more than 66% of the giant pandas in the wild and almost 54% of their existing habitat.

The Chinese government, in partnership with WWF, has also developed bamboo corridors to link isolated pockets of forest, allowing the pandas within them to move to new areas, find more food and meet more potential breeding mates.
Panda habitat / ©: Nigel Allan / WWF
Pandas live in around 20 isolated habitats (red) in Gansu, Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces, China.
© Nigel Allan / WWF
Minshan Mountains. Sichuan, China. rel=
The mountain pass between between Wanglang and Baihe Nature Reserves in the Minshan Mountains. Sichuan, China.
© Philippe Semanaz

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Minshan Mountains

The mountains form a natural barrier between the densely populated southern and eastern provinces of China and the great wilderness of the Tibetan Plateau, the highest and largest in the world.

Spreading through the provinces of Sichuan and Gansu, the Minshan mountains run along the north of the Great Sichuan plain and to the east of the Tibetan Plateau, and form part of one of the most important watersheds in China.

They are also home to hundreds of giant pandas with PingWu county boasting the highest density of wild pandas in the world.

But the Minshan mountains' magnificent forests are a critical habitat not only for giant pandas but also for a wealth of other species, including the dwarf blue sheep and beautiful multi-coloured pheasants.
 / ©: Susan A. Mainka / WWF
Giant panda in Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan Province
© Susan A. Mainka / WWF
The Qinling Mountains. rel=
The Qinling Mountains. Shaanxi, China.
© WWF / Michel GUNTHER

Qinling Mountains

The mountains are part of China's most critical watershed, channeling rainwater into both of the country's great rivers, the Yangtze and the Yellow.

Located in Shaanxi Province, the Qinling mountains form a natural barrier between northern and southern China, protecting the south from the cold northern weather.

And the warm rains on the southern slopes support a rich variety of plants and animals. Along with a few hundred pandas, the mountains are also home to other endangered species, including the golden monkey, takin and crested ibis.

As well as being fantastically rich in natural resources, the mountains also boast a long human history, dating back thousands of years.

Qinling sub-species

Scientists have discovered that the giant pandas in the Qinling Mountains are actually a different subspecies from the other giant pandas.
 / ©: naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF
© naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF
 

Connecting habitats

  • One of the ways that we can help pandas is to reconnect their habitats using wildlife corridors.

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