Currently serving as the mascot of a world-renowned conservation organization, building diplomatic relationships between China and the world, and playing protagonists in blockbuster movies — giant pandas have done it all. These animals’ public attention and adulation make them prime attractions at zoos. They have helped raise billions into exquisite conservation programs that have successfully brought the species back from the verge of extinction.
Conservation efforts have successfully used this anthropomorphized discourse to gain traction for their cause. Monetary investment in such universally pleasing campaigns is much more significant than campaigns for other bears.
In recent years, the panda population has increased, and their geographical range has expanded, thanks to international and national efforts to protect them. Nevertheless, other types of Asian bears haven’t been as successful in attracting such public admiration or conservation dollars. In addition to pandas, Asia is grounds for four other bear species that remain vulnerable to habitat destruction and poaching: the Asian black bear, the sun bear, the sloth bear, and the brown bear.
Conservation Efforts for Pandas
China has capitalized on the popularity pandas receive by illustrating these bears as a national treasure as the only country where pandas can be found. In the past 50 years, the government has used them for kindling diplomatic relationships and becoming a revenue model. China has developed 67 dedicated panda reserves and spends about $255 million each year on its maintenance. Moreover, it has also legally categorized pandas as a protected species, prosecuting anyone who engages in harmful practices.
Lesson Learned From Panda Conservation
If there’s one thing we can learn from panda’s conservation success demonstrates, conservation is possible if there’s a passion for saving a species and enough resources. Conservation experts believe that it is not a matter of technological development but a matter of willpower.
Rescuing and restoring bamboo forests was instrumental to the giant panda’s population recovery. With many Asian bear species losing their homes at a concerning rate, focusing on habitat restoration could be a powerful way to help their numbers go back to a healthy number. In addition, scientists say that public awareness, admiration, and strict enforcement of anti-poaching laws can help in their conservation.