Wild Giant Pandas in China

Written by Ruru Zhou Updated Apr. 28, 2022

Wild giant pandas are mainly live in the high wet mountains in southwest China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu Provinces. There the bamboo grows well, and the climate is wet and cool, which pandas prefer.

a wild panda in snow

How Many Wild Pandas are Left in China?

According to a survey on pandas living in the wild in 2015, there were 1,864 wild pandas in China, divided into 33 subspecies. 

The number of giant pandas is on the rise. In 2016, giant pandas were reclassified from "endangered" to "vulnerable". 

But some subspecies are still in danger. The number of giant pandas in 22 subspecies is less than 30 with a risk of extinction. In particular, 18 subspecies with less than 10 have a high risk of extinction.

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Where Do Giant Pandas Live in the Wild?

Wild pandas live in the cool and humid bamboo forests 2,600 to 3,500 meters above sea level in the southwest edge of China.

Pandas in the wild like to move in the river valleys and mountain slopes where bamboo grows well and they can easily hide from potential enemies.

Most of the wild pandas live in Minshan and Qionglai Mountains in Sichuan Province. The Wolong Giant Panda Nature Reserve has been built in Qionglai Mountains to protect them.

The rest of the Wild pandas live in Qinling Mountains, Minshan Mountains, and Qionglai Mountains. Most live in the south slope of the Qingling Mountains, mainly in Foping. There the Foping Giant Panda Natural Base has been established to protect them.

The habitat of wild pandas is shrinking. The total habitat area covers 29500, but they have been separated into small patches because of human activities.

Qinling Mountain

Are Wild Giant Pandas Dangerous?

Although the giant pandas look so lovely, you should remember that they are bears. They can be dangerous if you get close to them.

Although mainly eat bamboo, it sometimes preys on small mammals. Wild pandas are very aggressive. Its bite force is second only to polar bears in the bear family. Pandas in the wild can be dangerous, especially female pandas with cubs, which will attack all animals in sight, even jackals, wolves, and leopards.

Are Giant Pandas Still Endangered?

Giant pandas are no longer endangered in the wild with a population of over 1800 outside the captivity, but they are still vulnerable. In the past, 62 nature reserves have been established to protect them.

Where Can you see a Wild Panda?

The chance to see a wild panda is very small even for professional staff working in the panda base. If you want to try, the Wolong Giant Panda Nature Reserve is the best place to go. Wolong, called the hometown of Giant Panda, is part of the natural habitats of the wild pandas.

wild giant panda at foping nature reserve

Qingling Wild Pandas

Qingling panda is another subspecies of the giant panda. They have brown fur and are rare. There are estimated to be only between 200 and 300 Qinling pandas living in the wild.

They are restricted to the Qinling Mountains within an elevation range between 1300 – 3000 meters.

Brown pandas have been spotted around 10 times in Qingling. In May 2021, a brown panda was captured on camera walking slowly through a forest. Its head and abdomen and back are white, but the fur on its ears and limbs is light brown.

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