Monday, August 17, 2009 4:18 PM
Pandas May Go Extinct Within 2 or 3 Generations
Fan Zhiyong, an expert with the WWF, or World Wide Fund for Nature, is very concerned about the survival of one of the world's most well known and beloved creatures, the Giant Panda.
According to Fan, the economic expansion and the construction of highways is splitting up the giant pandas' habitats. This is basically causing little patches of panda habitat, that's really not allowing for the interbreeding between different habitats. Eliminating the paths for the pandas to travel between habitats will lead to inbreeding, which will make the species more vulnerable to disease and less likely to be able to reproduce.
"We may have to give up building some infrastructure," says Fan "I do not know the solution to this problem."
Most of the 1,590 giant pandas presumed to be in the wild are living in southwestern Sichuan,
northern Shaanxi and northwestern Gansu provinces. A total of 180 have
been bred in captivity, according to earlier reports. This really isn't many for a creature that has such a slow way of reproducing. First of all, a female panda reaches reproductive maturity between four and eight years into their lives, which means that they must first survive for that long in the wild that is rapidly shrinking. They stay able to reproduce until they are around 20 years old. They go into heat only once a year, for only 2 or 3 days. If they can not find a mate, or they do not conceive, they have pseudopregnancies, which are hormonally identical to a real pregnancy which makes it very hard to determine whether or not a panda is pregnant. Their gestation period is about 135 days, which is a pretty long time to only produce one cub. I say one cub, because when they have twins the mother usually abandons one.
There is no real research that shows that pandas have a problem reproducing in the wild, but in captivity their libido drops and the males often seem uninterested in sex. Panda breeders have come up with a few different ways to get the timid creatures to get down. They have shown the pandas "Pandaporn" which is basically just video and audio of other pandas having sex. They also have developed a form of "sexercise" for them that helps get their legs and sexual organs in shape for the big show.
I really hope that the pandas are okay, abut according to Fan it will only take about 2 - 3 generations at this rate for the pandas to become a fond memory. Hopefully we can do something about this, but development of land is a very hard thing to stop and rarely is it ever that humans will put themselves aside to save another species of our earthbound brethren.
Filed under: extinct, china, WWF, pandas, endangered, giant panda