Red pandas are fast becoming an endangered species and there are some reasons why red pandas are endangered.
The red panda has a physique that resembles a bear and thick russet hair; it is somewhat bigger than a domestic cat. Its little eyes and the side of its head are white, while its abdomen and limbs are black with white markings. Red pandas are very adept and acrobatic creatures that prefer to live in trees.
The Eastern Himalayas make up over half of the red panda’s natural habitat. In the winter, they cover themselves with their long, bushy tails, probably for warmth and balance. According to legend, the name “panda,” which refers to an animal that primarily consumes plants and bamboo, comes from the Nepali word “ponya.”
The Himalayas and southwestern China are where you can find red pandas most frequently. Although it bears the name “panda,” this curious creature has more in common with skunks and raccoons than it does with actual pandas.
The red panda eats lizards, fruits, vegetables, bamboo, leaves, birds, and eggs in addition to other foods like these. Despite having a similar size to a domestic cat, the red panda weighs a little bit more. It is a lone animal that is typically active all day long.
Members of the Ailuridae family include red pandas. 48 years before the giant panda was categorized, the western red panda was first identified by French biologist Frédéric Cuvier. He gave it the name Ailurus, which translates to “fire-colored cat,” claiming it was the most beautiful animal he had ever seen.
Only a few tiny mountain ranges in Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, and Nepal are home to red pandas. Researchers discovered that Chinese red pandas and Himalayan red pandas were two separate species in a thorough genomic investigation conducted in 2020. They claimed that due to its decreased genetic diversity and smaller population, the Himalayan red panda needs more urgent conservation.
Sadly, the red panda has been listed as an endangered species by the IUCN because of the sharp reduction in its numbers throughout the world. The IUCN Red List claims that there are less than 10,000 red pandas left in the world.
Reasons Why Red Pandas are Endangered
Red pandas are among the best-known creatures in Asia thanks to their intriguing reddish coats, expressive faces, and striped tails. Because of their appeal, they have appeared as mascots and toys in cartoons. Despite being widely known, red pandas are at risk for several reasons, including:
Loss of habitat is one of the factors contributing to the red pandas’ population decline, as it is for many endangered wild animals. The Himalayan forests have been disappearing at a startling rate during the past few decades. There have been more logging operations in the forests, and some of the forests are being turned into farmland by farmers.
It is important to remember that red pandas can experience a severe population reduction even if only a portion of the forest is destroyed. Red pandas may become inbred if distinct groups are split apart due to changes in forest ecology. Less genetic diversity caused by inbreeding makes animals unable to live in their native habitats.
Another significant factor contributing to the red panda population’s rapid decline in forests is poaching. Despite efforts to stop poaching, the crime is nevertheless common because locals hold onto some old-fashioned notions about red pandas that make them highly sought-after.
For instance, in China, many think that a red panda’s fur at a wedding signifies a successful union. Others think the animals’ parts have therapeutic qualities.
Despite being forbidden to acquire and sell, red panda remedies are nonetheless available on the black market. Red pandas are a popular target for poachers who want to make money by selling their pelts because of their brilliant, reddish fur and striped tails.
3. Accidental Trapping
The survival of the animals is also threatened by human activities that unintentionally trap red pandas near their natural habitats. Red pandas are never allowed back into the forest after being unintentionally caught in traps meant to catch other animals. Instead, they are offered on the underground market.
4. Trade in Illegal Pets
The red panda is a cute animal. They are also endearing and friendly. As a result, some individuals choose to keep red pandas as pets due to their allure. Unfortunately, because pandas are not domesticated, they are unable to handle the strain of being kept in confinement.
It is quite difficult to domesticate red pandas because of how afraid and violent they become under stress. They also need a very specific diet, which is challenging to provide at home.
5. Difficulties Adapting
Some animals have developed strategies to adjust to their shifting environments over time. Raccoons, who were predominantly woodland creatures, have been able to adapt to urban environments and have begun to eat food that has been left over by people. These creatures have thrived despite the decline of their natural habitats thanks to their adaptability.
However, red pandas have not been able to change the environment. Only bamboo shoots and leaves can be adequately digested by their digestive system; hence, they are limited to the conditions for which they were initially designed.
6. Difficulties Reproducing
One to three cubs can be born to a panda at a time, but only one of them will live to adulthood. Red pandas’ diet of bamboo, sadly, contains few nutrients, making it impossible for them to sustain two or more pups at once.
Red pandas are also quite picky about the partners they choose. Breeding programs are challenging because of their selective nature, which makes it difficult to guarantee that two pairs kept together in captivity will mate.
7. Climate Change
The population of red pandas is declining, and one reason for this is climate change. As we’ve already established, bamboo, which needs a specific high altitude to grow sufficiently, is one of the red panda’s most significant food sources.
Bamboo growth has been substantially hindered as a result of global warming, which has affected many different locations of the world’s nursery temperature. Pandas have been starving to death as a result of their inability to obtain enough of this food due to the decline in bamboo’s growth.
8. Loss and Destruction of Habitat
The habitats of red pandas are continuously being destroyed. Nearly all animals on the globe are affected by this problem, however, the red pandas are more afflicted than other species because of the aforementioned problems with genetic reproduction. Natural processes and human intervention both contribute to the ongoing habitat deterioration.
Human activities include deforestation, which is done to remove lumber from trees, urbanization, which clears land to accommodate the planet’s growing population, agriculture, which is done to feed the planet’s growing population, and more.
Many nations have established protection zones that allow the red panda to roam freely without fear of harm. The problem is that the red panda’s natural habitat is largely outside of this zone, making forests vulnerable to habitat loss and other activities that could harm the species.
How We can help to Preserve Red Pandas
As people’s awareness of the endangerment of species has grown recently, there is a significant interest in the red panda’s protection. Even if public awareness and excitement are high, more steps must still be taken to save the red panda from extinction.
Zoos are actively contributing to the extinction of these species by keeping them captive and engaging in aggressive interbreeding efforts that have done nothing to advance the cause.
Countries and wildlife organizations should adopt a more aggressive strategy to increase red panda populations and enact stringent laws and regulations that forbid the killing and poaching of this magnificent animal to save it, along with many others in the world, from extinction.
Whether you’ve always loved red pandas or are just discovering your passion for them, maybe this has helped you understand the problems they face (and draw attention to other imperiled species!).
We can restart the red panda population’s expansion through our efforts, and we can aid in restoring the habitats they call home. We can work together to prevent the extinction of the planet’s beloved mammals!
8 Reasons Why Red Pandas are Endangered – FAQs
How many red pandas are left?
10,000 red pandas are remaining in the wild and this is primarily because of deforestation and climate change.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.