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On the endangered list: The lonely red panda

All around the world animals are either going extinct or are just endangered and these fluffy cute red pandas are just a part of the 41,000 species of animals that are endangered. Chioma Okoye investigates...

What are Red Pandas?

Red pandas are also perceived and known as the lesser panda having no close relation to the classical giant panda. These pandas or ailurus fulgens are small mammals that reside in the Easter Himalayas in places such as China, Nepal, and Bhutan. Red pandas commonly spend most of the time in the trees in order to avoid predators, such as jackals and snow leopards and their semi-retractable claws allow them to move easily from branch to branch. Their furry red complexion also serves as a camouflage within the canopy of the trees. Their long and bushy tails also aids them in maintaining balance and protects them from severe winds and low temperatures.

What is the average lifespan of a Red Panda?

Red pandas commonly show signs of ageing at the age of 12 to 14 years old and females are incapable of breeding after 12 years of age. This is different to male Red pandas who, just like human males, still continue to stay reproductively capable. Red pandas typically live to the age of 23.

How do Red Pandas communicate?

Red pandas are mostly quiet, especially when it comes to avoiding predators. Although they do make low-key noises such as squeals, twitters and huff-quacks which can only be heard at close proximity. Young cubs also whistle, or make a high pitched bleat sound in order to signal distress and other Red Pandas also hiss or grunt.

How large are Red Pandas?

Newborn red pandas weigh between 90 and 110 grams whereas Adult red pandas commonly weigh between 3.6 and 7.7 kilograms and are as long as 56 to 62.5 centimetres. Their tails are also typically 37 to 47.2 centimetres long (source: Smithsonian’s national zoo & conservation biology institute)

What do Red Pandas eat?

Red pandas selectively feed on certain leaf tips that carry specific nutritious values but they primarily feed on bamboo which makes up 95% of their diet.

Why are Red Pandas going endangered?

Red pandas are the only currently living members of their taxonomic group, Ailuridae and currently less than 10,000 of them are left in the wild. They are presently, legally protected in India, Bhutan, China, Nepal and Myanmar. Today what is threatening them to go extinct is habitat loss and degradation, human interference and poaching and some research has shown that red pandas have declined by 40% over the past 20 years.

What would happen if Red Pandas went extinct?

Red pandas actually manage the growth of bamboo by feeding on these plants but if red pandas were to eventually go extinct it may result in the uncontrollable growth of bamboo which could affect the growth of other plants. In addition, the extinction of red pandas would ultimately affect the survival of predators down the food chain who depend on red pandas for their natural survival.

Ways you can help Red Pandas from extinction

One of the best ways you could possibly help in this fight to conserve the red panda population is by educating yourself and others on environmental issues like deforestation or poaching and use your voice to advocate for the better of not just red pandas but other animals as well. Furthermore, you can also look to donating to charities that aid in conserving the red panda population.

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