According to the fourth survey of national giant pandas in 2015, there are 1864 wild giant pandas in the country, 375 of them are in captivity, and their habitats constitute of an area of 2.58 million to 3.49 million hectares. Therefore, it was decided in 2016 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature that pandas belong to the “vulnerable species”.
This means that giant pandas’ threat level is similar to that of wild yak and river deer. In the domestic species known to the public, Rhinopithecus bieti, Manchurian Tiger, Asian elephant, Panthera uncia, Nipponia nippon, and Red-crowned crane are the endangered species. Chinese pangolin, gibbons, Yellow-breasted Bunting are the critically endangered species.
Elaphurus davidianus is an extinct species in the wild, and the white dolphin has gone into extinction. All of these species are in a much more hopeless condition than giant pandas.
Still, we emphasize strongly on the protection of giant pandas – it’s because they are way too lovely.
It’s not being emotional when we said that we wanted to protect giant pandas because of their cute appearance. There is a profound meaning behind – the relationship between China’s population and the environment is highly tensed, and all species are in the reach of humans. If the protection of wild animals is without the support of the public, any effort by the charities will only be in vain.
Taking the pangolin and the Yellow-breasted Bunting as examples, no matter how the Government educates about the public on its measurements of punishment, the public will still continue eating them if they firmly believe that they can be turned into delicious meals and effective medicine.
Therefore, with their cuteness, the giant pandas have taken on their responsibility as being a flagship species and umbrella species. The so-called flagship species is a species that attracts widespread public attention, and has the potential to attract money, like celebrities.
Through the meticulous operation of organizations of animal protection, giant pandas have become the beloved sweetheart of social media, they’ve become the link of international relations, and even a symbol of the country. Public welfare organizations have won a lot of prestige and funds to better protect more species.
The American Bald Eagles, the Asian elephants of Thailand, and the Bengal tigers of India are all such flagship species, but frankly, none of them look as cute as the giant pandas, even the official symbol of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a giant panda.
As an umbrella species, the practical significance of protecting giant pandas is even greater – there are so many species that need to be protected, and such protection require large human, material, and financial resources. Fortunately, once we succeed in protecting the umbrella species, we end up protecting the other species which live with them too.
By the end of 2014, the Chinese government has established 67 protected areas in the area of giant pandas, covering an area of more than 3.36 million hectares, including 179 species of mammals, accounting for 32% of the total number of mammals in China.
There are 565 species of birds, it accounts for 39% of birds in China; there’re also 81 species of reptiles, accounting for about 20% of reptiles in China, nearly half of which are endemic to China. Furthermore, there’re 92 species of amphibians, accounting for 26% of amphibians in China. We can almost say that the giant panda has sheltered nearly one-third of the species in China. How almighty are they?