Q:

Why are giant pandas becoming extinct?

A:

Giant pandas are becoming extinct due to extensive habitat loss and destruction by hunters. Habitat loss destroys bamboo, which is the giant panda's sole food source. It also isolates pandas causing a reduction in the rate that mating and reproduction occurs. Poachers kill only a few pandas each year, but hunters of other animals in the area accidentally kill pandas on a more regular basis further reducing their numbers.

All wild giant pandas live in the Yangtze River basin in China. Rapid industrialization in China has destroyed much of the forest in this area. Each giant panda eats about 28 pounds of bamboo a day, and a dwindling supply of bamboo due to fewer bamboo forests leads to malnourishment and fewer pandas.

Pandas are solitary animals each living in their own territory. Individual pandas only meet up briefly during the spring for mating. Growing numbers of roads and miles of railway track increasingly prevent pandas from finding suitable mates during the brief period when females are fertile.

Chinese laws provide some protection for the endangered giant panda population. Preserves provide protection for some of the population, and anti-poaching laws are strictly enforced. Many pandas live in zoos, and captive breeding programs have become increasingly successful.


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