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115. Giant Panda

Ailuropoda melanoleuca


This striking species has suffered greatly in the wild due to human encroachment onto its disappearing habitat.

Pandas feed almost exclusively on bamboo, and need to eat vast quantities to meet their energy requirements. Despite extensive protective measures, pandas are being forced into smaller and increasingly isolated and fragmented pockets of habitat where there is often insufficient bamboo to support the declining populations. They are generally solitary, with each individual holding their own territory – they only tend to socialise in the brief breeding season. In 2015 the giant panda population was estimated at only 1,864. Gifts of giant pandas to outside zoos formed an important part of the diplomacy of the People’s Republic of China in the 1970s; with the practice being named ‘panda diplomacy’. The giant panda is part of the only lineage in the Carnivora order of mammals to have lost their carnivorous diet and become herbivores secondarily. They are the only living members of their genus, which is the only living genus in the sub family Ailuropodinae.

  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Ursidae
  • Population: 1, 864
  • Trend: increasing
  • Size: 1.2-1.5m
  • Weight: 75-160kg

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.06 (?)
ED Score: 38.24 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


The Giant Panda’s range is highly fragmented, once widespread throughout southern China, and as far north as Beijing and south into Southeast Asia, the Panda’s distribution is now confined to its previous western extremity in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

Habitat and Ecology

Giant Pandas typically occupy temperate montane forests at altitudes of 1,500–3,000 m. Giant Pandas have evolved to specialize on a diet of bamboo a poor food source and must eat up to 12.5kg per day. Giant Pandas are a solitary and seasonal-breeding mammal, only coming together during the breeding season, from March to May, for reproductive purposes. Because Pandas live a solitary existence, they must rely heavily on chemosignals to communicate with one another without necessitating face-to-face encounters.

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Conservation Actions

For each key category of conservation action, we calculated a conservation attention score based on expert information. In this graph, a higher score means the action is being carried out more intensively over more of the species range. The colour shows how important each action is considered to be for the conservation of this species.

Engaging stakeholders
Addressing threats
Status of knowledge
Management plan
Capacity building
Behaviour change
Awareness raising
  Score: 100 means the activity occurs at high level across more than 75% of the species range
Very Low

Overall Conservation Attention

We combined all of the expert information on conservation actions to calculate an overall conservation attention score for this species. Please help us to reach our goal of establishing dedicated conservation attention at “High” levels for all EDGE species.

Very Low Low Medium High

More information

Recent studies have grouped all possible conservation activities for any species into nine key categories (Washington et. al 2015). For each action, we asked experts for each species to assess the extent to which that action is being carried out and how much of the species’ range that action occurs in. For each action we used these two pieces of information to calculate the conservation attention score per action. A score of 100 means that the action is being carried out to a high level across at least 75% of the species range. We then combined the scores for all actions into an overall conservation attention score for the species. The experts also judged how important each category was to the conservation of that particular species.

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Tourism Earthquakes Avalanches Habitat change Extreme temperatures Extreme weather Crops Wood plantations Livestock Mining Roads/Rail Utility lines Hunting Gathering Recreation Fire Dams Ecosystem changes Invasive species Native species Introduced genetic material Disease Agriculture Garbage

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
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