China's Giant Panda Could Be Extinct Soon (2-3 Generations)


Two panda cubs in southwest China. Photo: Flickr, CC
Very Precarious Situation
We've all heard that giant panda bears aren't exactly rabbits when it comes to reproduction. Even in the best circumstances they reproduce slowly, but because the panda's habitat in China is being destroyed and divided into smaller patches (mostly be highways and roads), pandas are having a hard time finding mates, threatening to reduce their gene pool under what is viable.
Photo: Flickr, CC
Discovery News writes:

"If the panda cannot mate with those from other habitats, it may face extinction within two to three generations," said Fan Zhiyong, Beijing-based species programme director for WWF. "We have to act now."

The risk of inbreeding is increasing, threatening to reduce the panda's resistance to diseases and lowering its ability to reproduce, the paper said.

There are only about 1,590 pandas left in the wild in China, and only 180 have been bred in captivity so far. China's rapid development probably means the end of the pandas, unless some solution can be found very soon.

For more information, check out the WWF's page about pandas and the Giant Panda Conservation Fund.

Via Discovery News
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Tags: Animals | China | Endangered Species