5-speed listening (Conservation - Level 6)

Panda conservation drive harms other mammals



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Zoologists have long hailed saving the giant panda from the brink of extinction as a conservation success story. For decades, the panda has been the "poster animal" for all endangered species. It is even on the logo of the World Wildlife Fund. The International Union for Conservation of Nature removed it from the endangered species list in 2016, although it remains "vulnerable". Many conservationists are now concerned this has come at a cost to other mammals, especially those sharing its habitat. A study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution found that the leopard, snow leopard, wolf and Asian wild dog have almost disappeared from the majority of areas in which the giant panda lives.

Researcher Professor Sheng Li, from Peking University, commended the efforts to protect the giant panda but lamented this has come at the expense of some of China's larger, carnivorous mammals. Since panda conservation areas were established in the 1960s, Asian wild dogs have disappeared from 95% of protected reserves, leopards from 81%, wolves from 77%, and snow leopards from 38%. Professor Li said his findings "indicate the insufficiency of giant panda conservation for protecting these large carnivore species". However, he added: "Failing to safeguard these large carnivore species does not erase the power of the giant panda as an umbrella that has effectively sheltered many other species."

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