© naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF-Canon

Protected areas and bamboo corridors

The good news is that giant panda numbers are increasing. Slowly but surely this remarkable species is edging away from the brink of extinction - thanks to a host of successful conservation projects.

But pandas still face a number of threats, particularly habitat loss and fragmentation, so extra efforts are needed to ensure that they continue to survive and thrive.

Creating new reserves and linking up existing panda populations are key to the species' future. The Chinese authorities have increased the number of panda reserves to 67 in recent years, but this still leaves around 1/3rd of wild pandas outside protected areas.

The Chinese government, in partnership with WWF, has also developed bamboo corridors to link pockets of forest, allowing the pandas within them to move to new areas, find more food and meet more potential breeding mates.

But with panda habitat continuing to be fragmented by roads, railways and other human development, additional corridors will be needed to connect isolated panda populations.

	© WWF
Panda on the tree with snow.
A change in bee keeping brings more honey and saves forests. rel=
New bee keeping method produces more honey and helps to conserve forests
© WWF / Claire DOOLE, WWF China

Conservation and community development

But simply providing more land for pandas is not enough. Only by effectively addressing the needs of local people and sustainably enhancing their livelihoods can we hope to guarantee the long term survival of the giant panda.

The Chinese authorities and WWF have initiated a variety of community development projects in the Minshan and Qinling Mountains, including:
  • Providing local communities with alternative livelihoods that provide a sustainable income for families while reducing the negative impact of medicinal plant harvesting and poaching;
  • Helping people to find a wider market for their locally produced goods, such as honey, pepper, walnuts and potatoess;
  • Providing villages with alternative energy sources, such as wood-saving stoves and bio-gas from pig manure, so people can cook and stay warm while harvesting less wood from the forests;
  • Showing communities how to protect panda habitat without compromising their economic livelihoods by training them in sustainable logging methods, introducing new income-generating activities like ecotourism, and raising awareness about conservation.

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	© Michel Gunther / WWF
Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca); Sichuan Province, China.
© Michel Gunther / WWF
	© naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF
© naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

Research and monitoring

The success of panda conservation in recent years owes much to the dedication and determination of Chinese and international researchers working with the governments, universities and conservations organisations, such as WWF.

By spending countless hours monitoring and researching, they have been able to develop an accurate picture of the panda's population status and current threats, and formulate effective measures that have reversed the panda's decline.

Ongoing research and monitoring of pandas and their fragile habitat will be vital to ensuring that the conservation successes of the past few decades are not undermined. And that giant panda numbers continue to recover.

Camera traps are a critical research tool because of the difficulty of locating pandas in their remote, mountain habitat.

The cameras are triggered by movement and, along with GPS technology, are helping to create a more accurate picture of the number of pandas in the wild.
Prof. Hu Jin Chu examines bamboo 
	© (c) WWF / George B. SCHALLER
Prof. Hu Jin Chu examines bamboo, the main food for Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Wolong Nature Reserve, Sichuan, China.
© (c) WWF / George B. SCHALLER
Giant Panda captured in Wang Lang NR, Sichuan, China 
	© WWF China/Wang Lang NR/Peking University / WWF
Giant Panda photographed on a camera trap in Wang Lang NR, Sichuan, China
© WWF China/Wang Lang NR/Peking University / WWF

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