The Giant Panda Bear http://greenanimalkingdom.com/?tag=panda-bear By Heather Small
Table of contents Their living conditions at the zoo and in the wild Reserves The work to prevent them from becoming an extinct species Their eating habits Their reproductive cycle The work of in vitro fertilization
Living Conditions In the wild pandas like to live in remote, mountainous regions of central China. This is where the bamboo is located and the climate is cool and wet. Although there is only a 100 or so living at the zoo, this is the only way that researchers can study them. The pandas in the zoo are our ticket to understanding this species. There are only about 1,000 or so giant pandas left in the wild, they do have reserves that are made to protect them. Many studies have been done on these reserves. The one that I’m going to refer to is the Wolong Nature reserve for Giant pandas.
Reserve The Wolong Nature Reserve for Giant panda bears is located in southwestern China. It was established in 1975 to protect the endangered panda bears. Through many analyses the reserve has shown that it is more fragmented and less suitable for them. Before the reserve was created the land was more suitable for them to live. The reasons why they chose the Wolong Nature reserve to do their research was that it was the largest protected area for panda bears it holds ten percent of the world’s population. There are also local people that live in the reserve as well. The last reason is that it is a “flagship” area that has received a lot of help with financial and technical support from not only the Chinese government but international organizations as well. When doing their research Jianguo Liu, Marc Linderman, Zhiyun Ouyang, Li An, Jian Yang, and Hemin Zhang came up with factors that would allow habitat to be suitable for the panda bears which are forest cover, slope, and elevation.
Reserve continued The Wolong Nature reserve was found to have an elevation levels ranging from 1200 to 6250 m above sea level but pandas prefer elevation to be anywhere from 2250 to 2750 above sea level. To better figure out the pandas habitat areas they broke it down into four categories highly suitable, suitable, marginally suitable, and unsuitable. They then compared the rates of the panda bears inside the reserve and outside of the reserve. They found that the habitat qualities inside the reserve started to decrease majorly after the reserve was established. They also found that the habitats that were labeled marginally suitable increased the outside of the reserve but inside the habitat decreased more. The researachers also found that human esixtances inside the reserve had a major affect on the pands. There was a high rate in the local population due to a high rate of births. Since the one child rule does not apply to the minority ethnic groups, which makes up for 75% of the reserve, the population rate in households went up. More younger people started to build new families and houses on the reserves instead of the traditional way which is multiple generations staying the same house together.
Reserve continued The local people are the people who need to be blamed for destruction of the forest and the lost of the pandas habitat. The local peoples labor force consist mostly of farmers so there is a lot of land that is loss. The other factor that the researchers found to have a major affect on the reserve is tourist. Every year this reserve attracts thousands of tourist, which has helped to turn this reserve from a closed economy to an open economy. With all of this human interaction research has shown that it has had a negative impact on the forest and the panda bear’s habitat. Even when the people exhausted the reserve they moved to more remote forest areas to complete their activities. Although we are already faced with a challenge to keep these panda bears from becoming extinct, we will have an even bigger problem if there areas that we have set up to protect them are not better protected after we have established them. To make these areas more effective we need to integrate ecology with human demography, human behavior, and socioeconomics.
Prevention from extinction The Chinese government has become more committed to increase it’s environmental protection. China has put into place what is called the Natural Forest Conservation program which aims to increase forest coverage in areas such as the upper Yangtze, Yellow, and Songhuajing river basin. By increasing forest coverage they hope to prevent another flooding like the one that occurred in 1998 which affected 21 million hectares. The policy that is in place bans logging in natural forests, strengthens protection in existing forests, implement a forestation, as well relocating unemployed forestry workers. They also partnered up with another policy Grain to Green which aims to restore hillside agricultural lands into forest or grasslands especially in Sichuan where a majority of Panda bears live. This policy is suppose to happen with in the next 5 to 10 years. events.cleantech.com
Eating Habits When people think of pandas they automatically think of bamboo because that is all we ever see them eat. Panda Bears will typical eat for half of the day or every 12 hours which also means it relieves itself quite a bit throughout the day. Panda bears eat roughly 28 pounds of bamboo a day to satisfy its dietary needs. To receive bamboo the panda will pluck the stalks with elongated wrist bones which are close to thumbs for us humans. Every once in awhile they may consume birds or rodents. In the summer time the pandas can come climb as high as 13,000 feet on a high slope to retrieve bamboo. When the pandas are feeding they are find in a relaxed sitting position with hind legs stretched out in front of them. Even though we see the panda bears eating bamboo, they actually lack genes to help them complete the digestion of bamboo. The panda bear is consider to be a bear and most bears are carnivores, the panda bear does posses the genes necessary to process meat. Since their diet is mainly herbivores they rely on microbes that are located in their stomach. The main reason for this development is a mutation located in the panda’s T1R1 gene that affects their ability to taste meat.
Panda eating bamboo http://thundafunda.com/33/animals-pictures-nature/snack-time-panda-bear-pictures.php
Reproduction This is what panda bears need to do in order to survive. The male panda bears have developed a sense of smell that helps them to avoid other males and to find those females to mate in the spring time. Females go through a five month pregnancy which they then will give birth to a cub or two even though they cannot care for both. Research was done in the selection of a den by a mother panda which I will explain in the following slide. The little cub infants are blind at birth and only weigh five ounces and can start to crawl at 3 months of age. When they are born they are all white and will later on develop their famous black spots. last.fm
Den Research Dens are not only for used for hibernation but for panda bears they are used for births. Dens are used to protect the cubs from predators and protect them from the cold and wet environment. Such structural characteristics that play into den selection are dimensions of the entrance and interior room. The outside factors of the den include distance to water, accessibility, slope, aspect, vegetation structure, and food resources. All of these factors affect the offspring survival rate. The selection of dens in females have evolved through natural selection. The den area is crucial for the cubs because they spent their first 3 to 4 months in the den. To help prevent forgo reproduction, abandon cubs, or higher cub morality we need to know the characteristics of a preferred den. The den cavities must be large enough for an adult panda to enter it and stand upright inside. Compared to the unused dens the used dens were 50% deeper and nearly twice the ratio of height and width of the interior entrance. They were half as far distance to the water supply. A small entrance with a large room is ideal to keeping the heat in and the predators out. If the interior room is to small as found in zoos there can actually be physical injuries occurring to the cubs such as the mother stepping on them and crushing them to death. In the end the research concluded that we need to figure out how many female pandas will be giving birth each year and how dens are suitable for them. If there are dens that are not suitable we need to fix dens or put in artificial dens. If we do this then the conservation could aid in rapid population growth and rec`overy.
In Vitro Fertilization The new controversy in China is in vitro fertilization for panda bears. The proponents of this project is that the panda bear population is decreasing at a rapid pace that new technologies need to be invented to rescue them from being extinct. The opponents side of this project is that the panda bears are reproducing sufficiently enough to keep the species around if more protect is provided. In the Chengdu Zoo between the years of 1990 and 1995 five female pandas have given birth to 14 litters which is about 20 cubs overall which 15 cubs are still alive. The first actually birth from IVF was carried out in the Beijing zoo in 1978 which was used by frozen and thawed semen. Although this was only one birth that went successful IVF is still an experimental procedure and the gain numbers are less then losses. The procedure is to extract an ova from a deceased female panda or a captive panda. Then a mature ova will be fertilized, then any zygote will be nurtured in a test tube and kept frozen until there is a suitable candidate. Opponents believe that this procedure is not helpful or practical to increase the population. Research has shown that there is unstable success rates to IVF, the main reason for this is a disorder called reproductive endocrine disorder that leads to failure of sperm and the ovum to connect. Zhang who is responsible for the IVF procedure states that his team will not begin working on live panda bears until they have perfected their skills.
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Works Cited continue Meiyue, Z. (1996). IVF project stirs debate over how to preserve pandas. Science, 272(5268), 1580. Retrieved fromhttp://ezproxy.hacc.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/213553087?accountid=11302 Zhang, Zejun, et al. "Factors Predicting Den use by Maternal Giant Pandas." Journal of Wildlife Management 71.8 (2007): 2694. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 22 Mar. 2011.