Wild Pandas: 8 Things You Didn't Know
Giant pandas are a national treasure of China and wild pandas are very rare.
Here are the top eight things you should know about pandas in the wild.
1. How many wild pandas are there now?
According to the latest survey in 2015, there are 1,864 pandas in the wild. That’s a 16.8% increase since the previous survey, which was released in 2003.
The population of wild pandas is on the rise. In 2016, giant pandas were reclassified from "endangered" to "vulnerable".
2. Where do wild pandas live?
Wild pandas live mainly in bamboo forests high in the mountainous regions of Western China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces.
They mainly live in areas at an elevation of between 5,000 and 10,000 feet (1,524 to 3,048 meters), which are rich in bamboo forests.
There are 67 panda reserves in China. Two thirds of the giant pandas in the wild live in the reserves.
Read more information about giant pandas' habitat.
3. Can I see wild pandas? Where?
The chance of seeing a giant panda in the wild is very small, even for professional staff members in the panda reserves.
If you want to explore the wild pandas' habitat, the best place is Wolong. Wolong, known as "the homeland of pandas" in China, is part of the original habitat of wild pandas.
You can consider taking a hike in Dengsheng Gorge, which is an authentic natural habitat for wild giant pandas as well as other wild and rare animals.
Even though there is a slim chance of seeing pandas or even their footprints, you will be impressed by the beautiful scenery, fresh air, rare plants, and tranquility far away from the city's hustle and bustle.
You can enjoy this hike in our Wolong In-Depth Panda Tour.
Find out about the best reserves to see giant pandas.
4. What do pandas eat in the wild?
You might have learned that giant pandas like bamboo very much. Yes, bamboo forms 99% of their daily diet.
They eat bamboo for 12–14 hours a day, which adds up to 12.5 kilograms (28 pounds) of bamboo each day.
What else do they eat?
Occasionally, they eat rodents, fish, insects, birds, and fruit to supplement their diet.
Read more about What Giant Pandas Eat.
5. How do panda families live in the wild?
Panda families don’t live together. Giant pandas like being alone. It is very rare to see two pandas together, except for during the short breeding season (March to May).
After mating, the male and female pandas will part and the female panda will raise her baby panda alone.
Wild pandas have a heightened sense of smell that lets them know when another panda is nearby and they try to avoid direct contact with others.
If a panda comes into contact with another one, they'll growl, swat, and bite each other until one gives up and leaves.
6. Are wild pandas dangerous?
There is no doubt that the giant panda is one of the loveliest animals in the world. But don't take it lightly if you see a wild panda, even though the chance of this happening is almost zero.
Don't forget they are bears and they can be dangerous.
When you join in a panda volunteer program at a panda base, please do not wear perfume or nail polish, and do not make any noise or sudden movements that might startle or irritate the pandas.
7. How do they survive in the winter?
Many bears hibernate but giant pandas don't. One reason is that bamboo doesn't provide enough nutrients for them to be able to live through the winter.
In the winter, they go down to lower mountains for the warmer temperature and more bamboo.
8. How long does a wild panda live for?
Wild pandas live for up to 20 years in the wild. With medical and nutritional help in captivity, pandas can live for more than 30 years.
Read on to learn more about a giant panda's life cycle.