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Anonymous C , 2012

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The giant panda is the rarest member of the bear family and among the world’s most threatened animals. [1]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. [2]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 ever-present threat.

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 the population.

[3]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 is banned.

Why is this species important?

The panda’s habitat in the Yangtze Basin ecoregion is shared by both pandas and millions of people who use the region's natural resources. [4]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

[5]When 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.

Scottish 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. [6]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:

WWF 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 panda conservation.

[7]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
  • Recently, 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. [8]Reserves for the pandas cover more than 3.8 million acres of forest in and around their habitat.
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