giant panda is the rarest member of the bear family and among the
world’s most threatened animals. It is universally loved, and has a
special significance for WWF as it has been the organization's logo
since 1961, the year WWF was founded.
Today, the giant panda's
future remains uncertain. As China's economy continues rapidly
developing, this bamboo-eating member of the bear family faces a number
of threats. Its forest habitat, in the mountainous areas of southwest
China, is increasingly fragmented by roads and railroads. Habitat loss
continues to occur outside of protected areas, while poaching remains an
Great strides have been made in recent years to conserve the
giant pandas. By 2005, the Chinese government had established over 50
panda reserves, protecting more than 2.5 million acres - over 45 percent
of remaining giant panda habitat – protecting more than 60 percent of
In 1984, the giant panda was transferred from
Appendix III to Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
. Trade in the species or its products are subject to strict regulation
by the ratifying parties, and trade for primarily commercial purposes
Why is this species important?
habitat in the Yangtze Basin ecoregion is shared by both pandas and
millions of people who use the region's natural resources. This
ecoregion is the geographic and economic heart of China. It is also
critical for biodiversity conservation. Its diverse habitats contain
many rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna, the best known being
the giant panda.
Economic benefits derived from the Yangtze Basin
include tourism, subsistence fisheries and agriculture, transport,
hydropower and water resources. The survival of the panda and the
protection of its habitat will ensure that people living in the region
continue to reap ecosystem benefits for many generations.
Evolution of a symbol
some of the world’s scientists and conservationists met in 1961 to plan
how to publicize the threat to wildlife and wild places and to raise
funds to support conservation projects, they decided to launch the World
Wildlife Fund (WWF). They needed a symbol, and at the time Chi Chi, the
only giant panda in the Western world, had won the hearts of all that
saw her at the London Zoo in the United Kingdom. She was a rare animal,
like her wild panda cousins in China, and her form and color were the
ideal basis for an attractive symbol.
naturalist Gerald Watterson made some preliminary sketches, from which
Sir Peter Scott, world-renowned wildlife conservationist and painter,
designed the WWF’s giant panda logo. The design of the logo has evolved
over the past four decades, but the giant panda’s distinctive features
remain an integral part of WWF’s treasured and unmistakable symbol. For
years, the giant panda has been thought of by many Chinese as an
unofficial national symbol, too. Today, WWF’s trademark is recognized
not only in China but also in most countries as a universal symbol for
the conservation movement itself.
WWF works to:
has been active in giant panda conservation since 1980, and was the
first international conservation organization to work in China at the
Chinese government's invitation.
It is important to recognize that
WWF and other NGOs are significant, but peripheral players in China.
After many years of observation and practice it is clear that WWF’s main
role in China is to assist and influence policy level conservation
decisions through information collection, demonstration of conservation
approaches at all levels and capacity building. In addition, WWF also
serves as a facilitator; a source of information and a communicator in
Early panda conservation work included the
first-ever intensive field studies of wild panda ecology and behavior.
Current work focuses on the Minshan Mountains in Sichuan and Gansu
provinces and the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi province. Specifically
our work includes:
- Increasing the area of habitat under legal protection
- Creating green corridors to link isolated pandas
- Patrolling against poaching, illegal logging and encroachment
- Building local capacities for nature reserve management
- Continued research and monitoring
WWF has been helping the government of China to undertake its National
Conservation Program for the giant panda and its habitat. This program
has made significant progress. Reserves for the pandas cover more than
3.8 million acres of forest in and around their habitat.