The endangerment of pandas is divided into internal and external causes.
The internal reason is the high specialization of feeding habits, reproductive capacity and childrearing behavior.
In the long and harsh competition for survival and natural selection, saber-toothed tigers and other animals of the same era have gone into extinction. Pandas have survived, since they were transformed from carnivorous to eating bamboo.
However, food specialization has its drawbacks. The low-nutrient bamboo can hardly provide sufficient energy to pandas. Therefore, pandas do whatever it takes to save energy.
As bamboos only feed on bamboo, it results in their annual oestrus, and each time, it only lasts for 2 to 3 days. If they miss these few days, they will have to wait for the next year. Such a pattern explains why only few panda cubs are born every year.
In terms of child rearing, the newborn pandas are essentially premature infants. They have no vision, no hearing ability, and are utterly dependent on their mothers. They can only start living independently after one year and a half, and the probability of dying early is very high.
A female panda lives about 20 years. At the age of 5, she starts to have estrus, and at the age of 6, she would have her first baby. The baby panda starts living independently when it reaches 18 months old. Even if she gives birth to a panda cub every two years, she will give birth to at most 4 to 5 babies throughout her whole life.
The external cause is the destruction of pandas’ habitat by human hunting.
After the discovery of pandas by Western missionary David in Baoxing, foreign hunters rushed into China to hunt pandas fiercely. However, some people, who don’t obey the law in China, still engage in this illegal activity when they face temptation, disregarding the national laws of the protection of pandas, and posing a direct threat to the survival of pandas.
Human beings have engaged in deforestation, resulting in the disappearance of panda habitat and the severity of ethnic division. Individual pandas are thus forced to live in scattered places, and it is difficult for them to migrate freely, which leads to inbreeding and degradation of species.
After nearly 40 years of promotion and protection in China, great achievements have been made in the protection of pandas. People have started to grow a consciousness about the protection of this national treasure, and hunting pandas secretly has never happened again.
The establishment of a large number of panda nature reserves has protected the habitats of wild pandas, and all the scattered areas are linked together. With the development of the research on pandas, the number of captive pandas has been increasing, and the field training has been carried out steadily at the same time.
The endangered situation of pandas has been greatly improved. By 2018, the number of pandas has reached 1864, and their status has changed from endangered to vulnerable.