The giant panda is the rarest bear species on Earth. Only around 1,600 giant pandas live in the wild nowadays. Their predecessors were indigenous even in a substantial part of South East China, in northern Burma and Vietnam.
Giant pandas practically have no natural enemies. Man is the only threat they have to face.
The giant panda's habitat has been reduced by some fifty percent because of large scale deforestation during the last twenty years. (Various panda sites are very far from each other, so animals are often unable to find each other during the short mating period. Their situation is made even more dire due to the fact that the pandas' reproduction is difficult and many cubs die before reaching adulthood.)
The availability of bamboo continues to decrease, while giant pandas have an insatiable appetite. They can eat half their body weight in bamboo in a single day.
They have to consume large amounts since the nutritional value of bamboo is very low. This solemn activity can take up to 14 hours a day. For the sake of variety, they sometimes eat other plants and meat on rare occasions.
The illegal hunting of pandas has fortunately stopped as a result of serious potential punishment (10-20 years jail) and informative work. What does, however, happen on several occasions is that pandas fall victim to snares poachers set for other animals.
WWF is working to establish panda reserves and to connect these with what we call "green corridors". It also supports the extended training of wildlife rangers, and the sustainable development of China's Sichuan Province. The engagement of local people plays a key role in our work.