Peak Into Panda Socks!
The World's Conservation Icon
Soft, gentle, and plushy bears... we love pandas! How can you not?
The Giant Panda is native to South Central China, although it used to also include Burma, Laos and Vietnam.
Did you know that their iconic black and white fur serve as camouflage? The white markings hide pandas in snowy habitats, and the black markings hide them in the shade. Did you also know that the skin beneath their fur matches in colour? That means: where their arms and legs have black fur, the skin beneath it is also black. Whereas the white fur patches on their faces and bellies hide the white skin beneath.
Today, we'll fill you in on facts about pandas, their current conservation status and how we can help save more of them!
Firstly, Fun Facts!
- There are two types of panda: the Giant Panda and the Red Panda. Both are endangered species,
It is believed that pandas roamed the earth as early as three million years ago!
- In captivity, giant pandas live to about 30 years old; scientists are undecided on how long that figure is in the wild...
- They can grow up to 1.5 metres and weigh between 75 - 135 kg!
- Giant panda cubs learn how to climb at 5 months old & their wristbones extend for thumb-like usage, to help grip their bamboo
- Pandas have similar pupils to cats - the iconic vertical slit
- Since bamboo isn't highly nutritious, pandas need vast amounts of at least two types of bamboo. They can feed for 16 hours a day!
The type of bamboo used for clothing is Moso bamboo (Phyllostachys pubescens). It's a tropical grass type different to the one pandas eat, so we're not taking any of their source with our socks!
- Baby pandas are born pink and blind (only opening their eyes 6 - 8 weeks after birth. They're also born around 15 cm in height - the size of a pencil!
The Giant Panda's Conservation Status
In 2016, the IUCN announced that pandas are no longer officially considered "endangered" after the population grew 17% across the previous decade. A semester later, in Spring of 2017, the WWF upgraded pandas from "endangered" to "vulnerable"!
What Makes Giant Pandas Endangered
Deforestation means that where pandas were once found in four countries, they're now only found in one: China. Pandas no longer exist in Vietnam, Laos and Burma. This habitat loss means their food source (bamboo) is gone. Relocating to another forest isn't viable because cities and other human dwellings are in the middle of that, meaning the pandas cannot travel and instead starve without the steady source of bamboo. If it's not provided to them after their homes are lost, they will die.
Whilst the Chinese government established over 50 panda reserves, only around 67% of the total wild panda population lives in them. Further, only 54% of the total habitat area is protected.
In the wild, infrastructure development further fragments the population and holds pandas away from finding new bamboo forests and potential mates, which is another issue...
Pandas have low-nutrient milk, are incredibly picky when choosing mates and usually only birth one viable cub at a time. It means they are very weak and if in the off-chance, pandas mate in captivity, the mother's maternal instinct is thrown off. As a consequence, she may abandon or even harm her baby, so the cub needs human care.
Pandas specifically adapted to a life eating bamboo, so when deforestation takes their bamboo forests away, they cannot survive. This means the eventual cities that have spawned over recent decades are unsafe and unviable locations for them to live in. Their lack of nutrition also means that they're unable to physically relocate far, so finding new bamboo forests is also not a practical option.
Illegal hunting of pandas for their fur causes further endangerment of the species.
China has, in fact, banned it and, combined with the 1988 Wildlife Protection Act, the punishment for being caught poaching pandas is very severe. Whilst the legislation has reduced the impact of poaching, sometimes pandas get caught in traps left for musk deer and other species.
What can we do?
10% of profits on our Save the Pandas socks will be donated to Pandas International. The charity works on projects including captive breeding, providing medical supplies and treatment, reintroduction programmes and ranger initiatives that all come together to conserve and protect our world's Giant Pandas. Pandas International likes to say that endangered means we have time... extinction is forever. Whilst pandas are no longer officially classified as 'endangered, they're still a vulnerable species and on the IUCN red list. We can take them further away from extinction, together.
Let's Save the Pandas!