However it is hard to compare the data from one census to the next since the method of collecting the data have been different. For example, in the late 1990s to 2000s, they observed panda dung to determine the number of pandas. Scientists had to trek through the steep mountainous bamboo forests, looking mainly for panda dung. Then they had to look through the panda poop and see if they could find some undigested bamboo fragment and look for the bite mark. Interesting, each panda has their own unique panda bite mark. It is like their fingerprint. In 2006, a group of geneticists used DNA analysis of panda poop. They examined the panda dung using DNA in a specific reserve in China. They found 66 different pandas. This was about twice the number of pandas that was found in this same reserve 5 years earlier using the bite method. The latest survey, to the best of my knowledge, is a combination of the bite size method and molecular analysis.
China now has 67 reserves where two-thirds of the giant panda population is protected. Saving panda habitat is good for other animals too. As their habitat is secured, it secures it for other animals too! This is definitely a win-win situation. The panda’s diet is 99% bamboo. Pandas need from 26 to about 83 pounds of bamboo each day to retain their energy. While the reforestation effort of bamboo forest that has been done for the Giant Panda is working, the IUCN said that the biggest threat facing the giant panda is climate change which will make it too hot for the bamboo to grow in about one third of the panda’s bamboo forest which could lead to another decline in the next 80 years. Also about 33.2% of the pandas live outside the reserves in China. So they still need our help today.
With this news about panda populations, it gives hope for some of the other endangered species. With hard work and dedication, maybe some of the other endangered species will also rebound. I sure hope so!