Why Have Giant Pandas Become Endangered?

Giant pandas are endangered due to hunting and habitat loss. While it is illegal to hunt giant pandas and poaching has declined, hunters still sometimes accidentally kill them while seeking other animals. The panda's primary habitat is the Yangtze Basin region. Fragmentation of the area caused by roads and railroads has isolated panda populations, which not only prevents them from meeting and mating, but also reduces their access to bamboo.

Due to their inefficient digestion, giant pandas must eat up to 84 pounds of bamboo per day. However, the amount of available bamboo has rapidly decreased as the demand for forest resources in China has increased. In an effort to address the habitat loss that threatens the giant panda population, the government of China began creating reserves in 1970. Pandas are particularly difficult to save because of their limited species distribution. They are found only in bamboo thickets at altitudes of 1,200 to 3,500 meters in southwest China. Largely solitary, the females have small territories. A male's territory is larger and overlaps with the territory of several females. The two sexes rarely interact outside of the mating season. Further complicating the issue, females only ovulate for two to three days per year.