The panda is the rarest of all species of bears and there are currently only 1,100 giant pandas in existence in the wild today. As a species, the panda faces a great many obstacles towards sustaining a growth in population.
The panda is facing a loss of its natural habit as large areas of natural forest have been cleared for agriculture and timber and as the Chinese population is growing, it is forcing the panda population out of their natural habitat. Indeed, between 1974 – 1988, the panda’s mountainous bamboo habitat has in fact shrunk by half.
Hunting is a particular problem. The panda shares its habitat with a number of species, which are very valuable to hunters supplying the booming medicinal trade in South-east Asia. Deer antlers, bear gall and musk deer pods are sought by poachers. It is these same poachers that litter the mountainsides with wire snares and some of these (inadvertently or otherwise) trap the panda. Even though trading in panda skins carries the death penalty in China, this rare and secretive animal is often prized by collectors for its skin.
It is the focus of the WWF to be at the forefront of panda conservation. They finance the training of local rangers to help prevent poaching, and work in conjunction with the Chinese government to fund panda projects such as research laboratories and captive breeding centres.
By sponsoring a panda through the WWF panda adoption scheme you are actively helping to maintain and prevent the panda species from becoming extinct. If you adopt a panda you really can make a difference to their survival prospects.