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Can giant pandas return to the wild?

Can giant pandas return to the wild?

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Published by jessieleong
Final year project submitted to the University of Nottingham in partial fulfillment of the requirements for BSc Animal Science
Final year project submitted to the University of Nottingham in partial fulfillment of the requirements for BSc Animal Science

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Published by: jessieleong on Jun 23, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/02/2013

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Can the giant panda return to the wild?Jessie Leong
Final year project submitted to the University of Nottingham in partial fulfilmentof the requirements for BSc Animal Science
 
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Abstract
 The giant panda have been a world renowned endangered species since 1986. Itwas endangered due to poaching and habitat fragmentation. The isolation of different wild populations in the mountain ranges due to habitat fragmentation isstill a major factor that endangers the giant pandas today. The giant panda hasa dietary requirement that is completely different to other Ursids even though ithas a simple carnivorous/omnivorous digestive system. The giant panda spendsmost of its day foraging and only digests about 20% of their diet. To aidingestion, the giant panda has unique elongated radial sesamoid which acts as afalse thumb. The low natural birth rates can be highly due to the reproductivesystem of the giant panda. The female giant panda has a reproductive systemthat is similar to the pig’s which allows for natural twinning to occur. Like otherUrsids, the female giant panda also exhibits delayed implantation. Moreover, thefemales give birth to underdeveloped young cubs which are only 1/10 of themother’s body weight. The male giant pandas have extremely small L-shaped (orS-shaped) penises. The giant panda uses vocal, visual and olfactory cues in thewild to recognise conspecifics, especially near breeding seasons. To preventfurther habitat fragmentation, the Chinese government have now set up manydifferent nature reserves on the giant panda natural habitats. To further increasethe total number of giant pandas, breeding programmes were carried out invarious captive environments. Due to the success in the breeding programmes,the
ex-situ
population can be viewed as a sustainable population and may bereintroduced back to the wild. Taking examples from large species that havebeen successfully reintroduced, it may take the giant pandas at least 30 years toachieve the goal of reintroduction. However, the successful reintroduction mayprove that the giant pandas have a better ecological value and should be saved.
 
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Acknowledgements
Supervisor - Dr Martin Luck (University of Nottingham)Xiang Bo and Xiao Qian (Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base)Gratitude is extended towards the above mentioned people for their guidanceand extensive support throughout the project.

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The Giant Panda is revered across China, and beyond. While exact figures of the species in the wild are not known, successful breeding of pandas in captivity is increasing. However, their natural habitat is being decimated, and is not quite understood how these animals will assimilate back into the wilds. This research takes a look at that exact challenge.
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