Endangered Wild Pandas Followed with GPS Tracking Technology21 Aug 2012
Cute, cuddly, and teddy-bear like are just a few or the words to describe the giant panda. Endangered is another one.
Giant pandas, which are named as such to distinguish them from red pandas, can live between 20 and 30 years. Unlike other types of bears, pandas don’t hibernate during the winter. Instead they move to lower elevations, which have warmer temperatures. Rather than picking one home or den, they prefer to roam. Pandas are one of the most solitary animals in the wild, and while they don’t have one home, they often have a defined territory. Pandas have long since been a popular symbol of Chinese culture, and beloved by children and adults across the world.
These exotic animals, well-recognized for their large black patches over their eyes, live in the forests and broadleaf, preferably at elevations over 5,000 feet and under 10,000 feet; mostly in China. Their diets consist largely of bamboo.
Unfortunately, as precious as pandas are, they are also endangered. As of 2004, there were less than 1,600 giant pandas in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Their endangered status stems from a low birthrate and habitat loss. Since 2005, China has been making advancements toward preserving their pandas, including establishing panda reserves, which protects about 60% of the population of giant pandas.
In order to save the giant pandas from full extinction, conservatory efforts taking place. One way panda reserves are doing this is with GPS tracking technology. This physical location technology is monitoring the pandas, and looking at their behavior in hopes that information obtained will help researchers understand more about pandas in the wild — and, more importantly, avoid their extinction.
One research group is doing just this. Compiled of 50 zoologists in China, efforts are underway using GPS tracking technology to track panda behavior and habitat in the Gansu province — an area estimated to contain 117 wild pandas. Zoologists here also hope to collect DNA samples to further their research; the DNA samples collected can also help researchers and scientists discover more about the giant panda’s sex ratio for genetic diversity toward the end of their survey. Additionally, a field study is being conducted to to get more detailed information about the habitat and living conditions of pandas, in hopes they can find ways to avoid extinction by improving their living conditions for sustainable living.
In another GPS tracking panda experiment, scientists from the China Conservation and Research Center are studying Tao Tao, a two-year old male panda cub, who lives with his mother, Cao Cao. Shortly after Tao Tao was born, he was placed with his mother in a 2,400 sq m semi-wild area to survey and research the pandas. Tao Tao has also been fitted with a GPS tracking device to ensure he has the skills needed to survive and thrive in the wild.
Prior to using GPS tracking software and technology, video camera in panda habitats have been used to monitor their movements and learn more about their living environments. However, in order to fully survey the giant panda’s life in the wild, GPS technology is superior and needed.
Researchers are hoping this modern technology will help save these unique animals from extinction.