Panda poop study brings good news
Using DNA methods on excreta, scientists have doubled their estimates of the wild panda population in a nature sanctuary in China.
Wei Fumin, a zoologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a member of the research team, said the researchers believed that as many as 72 pandas may be living in the Wanglang Nature Reserve - more than twice the previous estimate of 32.
The team took samples of panda droppings in the reserve and developed genetic profiles to draw the conclusions, Wei said.
The rising numbers are probably the result of natural population growth, migration from other areas and the effectiveness of conservation policies such as a logging ban to preserve panda habitat. “We’re really seeing these policies start to have an effect,“ Wei said.
Only around 2,000 giant pandas exist in the wild, with about 300 more in captivity. Deforestation in China has destroyed the panda’s habitat and depleted its food supply. Pandas are also subject to poaching. Native to western China, this adorable endangered animal has become a national emblem for its homeland.