The Giant Panda Paradigm Essay

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The Giant Panda Paradigm

The Giant Panda is a creature of mystery. Adults and children alike appreciate it for its cute, fuzzy, lovable qualities, but it is an animal that is in desperate need of immediate attention. Scientists know the basics: how and what they eat, where and how they live, and how they reproduce. The fact remains, however, that this universally loved national symbol of China is facing the threat of extinction. What accounts for this fact and what can be or is being done to protect the panda from such a fate? This paper will discuss the characteristics and lifestyle of the panda as well as issues and questions that arise as a result of the threat of their extinction.

Pandas have made their homes in China for
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Pandas have inefficient digestive systems, and must therefore spend more than ten hours a day eating the amount of food needed for necessary nutrients ((1)). While their dental structures have adapted to the bamboo diet their digestive systems remain closer to those of carnivores ((6)). This results in a low percentage of food digestion in comparison to the amount that it actually ingests ((6)).

The Giant Panda is currently threatened in a number of ways. The first threats are to their food sources. The Bamboo Rat is a minor, but existent problem that feeds on bamboo roots, killing plants on an individual level ((6)). Bamboo also undergoes phases of growing and then dying as part of the renewal cycle ((7)). This process is not a problem in itself, except for the fact that whereas the pandas might move to a different location to feed, they are running out of places to move because of the expansions of farmland and increased forest clearing ((7)).

The greatest threat of all to the Giant Panda is man. The abovementioned land clearing for farms, residential and commercial areas coupled with prowling poachers are the two most serious threats to the panda and its habitat ((3)). Efforts to set up reserves for the pandas have sparked conflicts with locals. When a reserve is established, people are often not compensated for the loss of land that they have used for years, and they are tempted to continue to use the land illegally ((3)).

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