In the past, giant pandas were killed for use in medicine, but hunting these gentle animals is now banned in China. While the ban has led to a decline in poaching, poachers still occasionally kill giant pandas for their fur. As of 2014, 1,000 to 1,600 giant pandas remain in the wild and in captivity.
The giant panda population has been declining for hundreds of years due to climate changes and hunting. However, the most prominent modern threat they face is habitat loss, as illegal logging operations decimate the forests and bamboo supplies. Solitary and shy, pandas avoid heavily populated areas and die of starvation as a result. Female pandas are unable to conceive until they are 7 years old and can only successfully raise a cub every three years, meaning that the giant panda population can sustain a total mortality rate of only 8 percent.
China's government has attempted to combat the slow extinction of pandas by creating 12 sanctuaries that allow the pandas to migrate from one preserve to the next, protecting them from accidental killings and providing them with ample access to bamboo. Logging also became banned in 1998 in an effort to preserve natural panda habitats.