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Giant panda walking in deep snow, China © naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

Giant panda walking in deep snow, China © naturepl.com / Edwin Giesbers / WWF

Giant panda

The giant panda is a global icon of species conservation, and holds special significance for WWF. Since 1961, when WWF was first formed, the panda has been the symbol of the organisation and its work to protect biodiversity.

Giant pandas are recognised around the world for their distinctive black and white coats. They have evolved to feed primarily on bamboo, and consume up to 12.5 kg every day in order to meet their energy requirements. Pandas are also excellent climbers, with cubs able to clamber up tree trunks when they are just six months old.

Today, giant pandas are only found in the Qinling, Minshan, Qionglai Shan, Liangshan, Daxiangling, and Xiaoxiang Mountains of Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu Provinces. They inhabit deciduous broadleaf, mixed conifer, and subalpine coniferous forests between elevations of 1200-1300 metres above sea level.

Ongoing conservation work has improved the number of pandas in the wild, providing hope that it is possible to reverse the decline of species populations through sustained action and political will. The results of China’s Fourth National Giant Panda Survey, conducted with help from WWF and released in 2015, estimated that there were 1,864 wild pandas - a 17% increase in just a decade. However, the long-term survival of these charismatic animals continues to be threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, so ongoing commitment is critical.


What we're doing

See our conservation work on the giant panda.

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Giant panda eating bamboo, Wolong National Reserve, Qionglai Mountains, China © naturepl.com / Lynn M. Stone / WWF

Giant panda eating bamboo, Wolong National Reserve, Qionglai Mountains, China © naturepl.com / Lynn M. Stone / WWF

 

Why it matters 

Giant pandas are found in an important global biodiversity hotspot in southwest China. Protection of their habitat is important for many other endangered species including the takin goat-antelope, golden monkey, red panda and crested ibis.

 

The forests that giant pandas inhabit are also home to millions of people. Conservation work in this region benefits local communities, who rely on this natural habitat as a source of food, water and income.

Giant panda resting at top of tree, Sichuan, China © naturepl.com / Juan Carlos Munoz / WWF

Giant panda resting at the top of a tree, Sichuan, China © naturepl.com / Juan Carlos Munoz / WWF

 

Ailuropoda melanoleuca

Species Bio

Common Name

Giant panda

Scientific Name

Ailuropoda melanoleuca

Stats

Giant pandas grow to 150 cm and weight between 80 and 150 kg. They live in temperate broadleaf and mixed forests of southwest China.

There are 1,864 giant pandas left in the wild. 

 

Status

Listed as Vulnerable (under IUCN Red List).

Did you know?

A newborn panda cub is roughly 1/900th the size of its mother.


Threats

Tree-clearing 

In China’s Yangtze Basin region, roads and railroads are increasingly fragmenting the forest, which isolates panda populations, reduces food supply, and prevents mating. The total population of wild pandas is comprised of 33 subpopulations, 18 of which contain less than 10 individuals.

Illegal wildlife trade and poaching

Poaching of giant pandas has declined due to strict laws and greater public awareness, however pandas continue to be killed by hunters seeking other animals in their habitat.

Global warming 

Climate data shows that the average temperatures in panda areas are rising. It is predicted that this will cause panda populations to shift to higher elevations, further reducing their habitat size.

What you can do to help

• Adopt a panda and help to protect three million hectares of forest that is the wild home and food supply of giant pandas.

• Support sustainable forestry by purchasing products with FSC certification.

• Panda tourism is on the rise. The Chinese Government and WWF are now working on ways to reduce the impact of tourism on panda habitats.

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