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Environmental Problem Then and Now

In this essay I would like to analyze a particular wildlife problem – continuous decline of giant panda’s population. Today, giant pandas are on the verge of extinction. Further, I would like to consider the history of this problem and evaluate strategies to improve current situation with giant pandas population.

According to Donald G. Lindburg, Karen Baragona (2009), several centuries ago, people started talking about pandas and, as a result, hunters of rare species were ruthlessly killing pandas by making them stuffed, getting fur. On March 11, 1869 Armand David – a Catholic missionary and naturalist, noticed a strange black and white skin of a bear, which hung on a fence in a village in Sichuan Province. Locals explained that it was the beast Bey-Shuang, who lives in the surrounding mountains, and that they are ready not only to give it to guest, but also to obtain for him the whole beast. Very soon, natives brought to David the carcass of unseen animal that resembled a bear, but had unusual color. Naturalist sent skin and skeleton of the beast to the Paris Museum and accompanied it by a note outlining what he was told by local residents. Since that moment the Western world learned about the existence of a panda.

One of the main factors, which led to the constant decreasing of giant pandas population, was deforestation in China. The population of China increased rapidly, and growth of resource requirements has hit the bamboo forests. Panda in the diet relies on a bamboo, as a result, bamboo forests and reduction leads to a decrease in the number of pandas. As a fact, bamboo cycle includes a period when it is not suitable for the pandas as a food, so pandas forced to migrate in search of food. Loss of habitat has led to increased fragmentation, cutting the pandas from the food. Fragmentation of habitat also affects reproduction. In particular, pandas can not find a mate during a short breeding season, so their population is not increasing. Thus, in mid-1970-ies, because of the simultaneous withering away of several species of bamboo in the north of Sichuan at least 124 giant pandas had died from hunger. After this tragedy, the Chinese government took active measures with the salvation of the beast, which by that time was an informal character of the country. Currently, pandas have 40 special areas, which cover almost the entire territory and there is a plan to create so-called “bamboo corridors” between these areas. Moreover, hunting for giant pandas is totally prohibited since 1962 with a strict punishment up to execution, according to Adam Sparks (2010).

In recent years, the panda became a national symbol of China and the Chinese authorities are currently working on its saving from total extinction. Authorities actively create a number of reserves and protected territories in which there are favorable conditions for living and breeding of pandas. One of the main areas of wildlife for pandas in Sichuan province is Wolong National Nature Reserve, which is located in Wenchuan region. It was founded in 1963 and covers an area of 200.000 hectares in the Qionglai mountain region. It can be said that there are 4.000 different species recorded in this reserve and is a home for more than 150 giant pandas. As a fact, Wolong has more than 100.000 visitors every year. It is essential to note that in June 1980, thanks to the efforts of the WWF, nongovernmental organizations and the Chinese government was founded Wolong Research and Conservation Center for Giant Panda, which plays the key role in the matter of study and further breeding of pandas, according to Giant Panda Threats. (2011).

Also, Chinese authorities created a number of nurseries for breeding giant pandas in captivity in Sichuan province. The most famous of them is the Vulun Center, where currently live more than 80 animals. Scientist began to study pandas and put them in special sanctuaries and zoos in order to understand why bears are dying. There had been created all sorts of conditions to pandas, but researchers noticed that the pandas were simply not willing to breed in captivity, according to Why Are Pandas Becoming Extinct? (2010).

All in all, on the territory of seven reserves and nine landscape parks in China, which total area is 924 500 hectares currently lives about 1600 giant pandas, and about 240 are in captivity. Consequently, today, the total number of giant pandas is about 2000. This statistics shows that measures, which are taken by Chinese government, WWF are effective and giant pandas population is constantly growing. However, it is essential to note that with the aim to continue this positive trend WWF and the Chinese government, as well as a number of international non-profit and commercial organizations and national parks and reserves of various countries should take joint efforts to prepare and implement joint programs to maintain the population of pandas. I am convinced that humanity still has a chance to save this beautiful animal not only for us, but also for future generations.

Adam Sparks (2010). Why Are Giant Pandas Becoming Extinct? Retrieved June 4, 2011 from http://www.ehow.com/about_6595494_giant-pandas-becoming-extinct_.html
Donald G. Lindburg, Karen Baragona (2009). Giant pandas: biology and conservation. Retrieved June 7, 2011 from http://books.google.com.ua/books?id=bFKrwj73REIC&pg=PA185&lpg=PA185&dq=ARTICLE+Degrading+Panda+wildlife+environment&source=bl&ots=Eir99hZvkV&sig=arp5M099R1DX-lMrg7v43lDfuyQ&hl=ru&ei=YdrtTa-rCcuj-gbsnsiVCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=8&ved=0CGcQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q&f=false
Giant Panda Threats. (2011). Retrieved June 7, 2011 from http://www.worldwildlife.org/species/finder/giantpanda/threats.html
Why Are Pandas Becoming Extinct? (2010). Retrieved June 4, 2011 from http://www.blurtit.com/q151796.html